Adam Ross - Mr Peanut (3 stars)

Adam Ross - Mr Peanut

(Jonathan Cape)

A terse thriller, Mr Peanut pivots along three narrative threads, each of which takes a look at the sinister side of marriage, and two of which end in murder. That they do not become entangled is a testament to the skilfulness with which Adam Ross’ debut novel is written. Its intricate plotting sucks the air out of the story, recreating the intense suffocation felt by its characters.

But while Ross clearly knows his craft, Mr Peanut is let down by overly self-conscious points of reference. The Hitchcock motif is laboured and the book’s Möbius strip framework feels a little forced. Moreover, its primary storyline is weak in comparison to its most absorbing sub-plot, a detailed exploration into the 1954 murder of Marilyn Sheppard in Cleveland, Ohio. This narrative is considerably more engaging than the rest of the novel, though its fast pace will keep you hanging on until the slightly confusing end.

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