Saturday, May 2, 2015

Review: "Mystery" by Peter Straub

I am walking away from Peter Straub’s Mystery, the second novel in his famed Blue Rose Trilogy with a much deeper respect for his talents as a creator of worlds. I still felt left out from a lot of the ideas Straub was presenting, but never was I bored or felt like I’d rather be reading something else. The first Straub novel I read was his most recent full-length novel (if you can call 5 years recent) A Dark Matter, and I loved it. I didn’t like Koko, the first novel in the Blue Rose Trilogy at all since it was a dense and boring experience. This novel falls in the middle, but I commend Straub because all three books are different from each other in all possible ways. A Dark Matter felt like King’s It with painfully realistic events, Koko, felt like a wartime thriller with a demonic edge. But this novel is almost a pure mystery, with most of the plot dealing with a decades old murder that affects a small island town called Mill Walk in the 1960’s. The main character is Tom Pasmore, a young, extremely smart kid whose life changes after he is almost killed in a car accident. While recovering, he becomes obsessed with a murder that has just happened with a strange connection to the one that involved his Grandma in the 20’s. It is through this research that he befriends an old man in his neighborhood, Lamont von Heilich, a brilliant amateur sleuth who, along with Tom, is determined to uncover many of the secrets that have plagued Mill Walk for years. It is twisty, complex tale that I don’t think I’ll ever get a grip on. It is also one that is a little too silly to feel any kind of fear for the villains once they are revealed. But one thing this book isn’t is boring. It is full of wit and some unexpected depth in describing Tom’s loneliness amongst the bourgeois town and the solace he gets in his love for classmate, Sarah Spence. Straub is a master at literary genres, and this book is a great example of his skill and imagination.

Rating: 4/5

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