According to WWW.dictionary.com, a Mobius strip is 'a continuous, one-sided surface formed by twisting one end of a rectangular strip through 180 degrees about the longitudinal axis of the strip and attaching this end to the other.' This creates a never-ending, twisting strip that on closer inspection, is much more complex that it first appears. This links in to the story of Mr Peanut, by Adam Ross, in several different ways... by being referencing in the book, by having a character known as only as Mobius, and by having a tangled, twisty, hard to follow tale!
Mr Peanut is one of the biggest books of 2010, and after hearing about it frequently, most notably on the Bookrageous podcast, where it has been mentioned in nearly every episode, I was intrigued enough to pick it up, and what a book it turned out to be!
The book has a complex story and structure, jumping between characters and their stories, both in the present time and each character's backstory. The story initially seems to be about Alice and David Pepin, a married couple living in New York. The police are called to investigate the suspicious death of Alice, who has died after eating peanuts, which she has a life-threatening allergy to, but did she eat them or did her husband force them down her throat? That is the question facing the two detectives sent to investigate the case, each of whom have complex marital relations of their own. Ward Hastroll's wife has taken to her bed and not left it for five months, and will not reveal why, despite Detective Hastroll's best efforts to bully, threaten and cajole her. Sam Sheppard was implicated in his wife's murder, years earlier, and the book revisits his tale, trying to solve the mystery of who actually killed Detective Sheppard's wife Marion.
Mr Peanut is a dark look at marriage, after the honeymoon period, when sometimes the person you have pledged your life to is the person that you can't stand the most. David Pepin is working on a novel, which at some stages appears to be the novel that you're actually reading, and its never very clear if he's writing about the way things actually happened, or the way he wishes that they would have happened. He writes about fantasizing of all the different ways his wife could die, with one notable example being Alice choking to death on a peanut... which brings us back to the start. Another thread of the tale involves Mr Pepin hiring a mysterious hit man to kill Alice, known only as Mobius, but then changing his mind and trying to prevent Mobius from completing the job. In another link back to the main story, Mobius the hitman is arrested, and will only talk to Detective Sheppard, constantly questioning him about the circumstances of his late wife Marion's death. This is a re-telling of the real life story of Sam Sheppard, who was convicted and then later acquitted of the Marion Sheppard's murder.
I found the structure of the book fairly complex, the shifts between reality and fiction can take a bit of getting used to, but I really enjoyed the book. Its one of the very few books that i wanted to re-read as soon as I had finished it, which I think says a lot about a story. The narrative thread draws you along, and ratchets up the tension until you can't wait to find out what is going to happen at the end! As you can probably tell from this review, I find this book hard to describe, but I would urge everyone to please give it a try, it may lead you into places you would never expect! I give this book four stars, as I feel this will be a regular re-read for me! If you have read it, (or if you are now planning to), please leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts!!