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Mystery by Peter Straub

Mystery (1990)

by Peter Straub

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793911,583 (3.77)20



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I read Mystery for the first time in the late winter/early spring of 1991, just after the paperback edition had been released. At the time I was almost exactly the same age as the novel's protagonist, seventeen-year-old Tom Pasmore...but, strangely enough, the second installment of Peter Straub's Blue Rose Trilogy disappointed me. It seemed rather sunny and lightweight after the uncompromisingly nightmarish Koko. However, in the twenty-five years between then and now I've reread Mystery several times and found my initial judgment to have been in error. The Throat is still my favorite book in the trilogy, but today Mystery is a close second: I believe that it's a better, more mature novel than Koko.
Of all Straub's books, this one is the most purely and unapologetically an old-fashioned murder mystery; it only flirts with the profound darkness that makes Koko and The Throat so terrifying. But with its fascinating cast of characters, offbeat dual setting (Mill Walk, a fictional Caribbean island, and the wealthy resort town of Eagle Lake, Wisconsin) and mound of unanswered questions surrounding a forty-year-old homicide, Mystery is utterly engrossing. Also, the villain happens to be one of Straub's most interesting and formidable.
Rereading this novel is an easy, immensely enjoyable way for me to return to 1991 for a few days, and I don't mind admitting my sentimental attachment to it :) Four and a half stars. ( )
  Jonathan_M | May 9, 2016 |
Good read, not yet disappointed by this author. ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
An earlier reviewer noted this book's "uncanny" atmosphere. And that is one of the book's strengths . . . the setting is well and weirdly rendered, a kind of halfway house between Straub's Milwaukee and a corrupt Caribbean island. And, it is becoming more apparent as I read my third or fourth Straub novel that settings like the Milwaukee, Bangkok and Singapore of Koko, and Mill Walk here are less real places than part of a semi-consistent Straubian dreamscape.

What I care for less is the adolescent protagonist, which seems to be another thing Straub likes having (aside from Milwaukee) in his books. It doesn't really work here, and a he-man detective has to be brought in at the last minute to pull of the denouement. A better overall design (of protagonists, antagonists and the stakes) would have avoided this.

But overall, good stuff. ( )
1 vote ehines | Jan 5, 2015 |
Went totally to hell at the end , but started off great ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
To put it mildly, this is a book I must have read a dozen times since I was a teenager, and I still feel the same fascination with the plot now as the first time I read it in French. There is a deep sense of 'uncanny' ('unheimlich'), as the modern day storyline is mixed with strange elements and past history ghosts/murders. Everything is connected between the past and the present and Straub's skill is fully developped as he plays with readers with clues and connections, daring us to understand the full story right up til the end.

The narrative is on the third person, but you feel close to the main character, Tom, as you read his thoughts and perceive his reasonning along the plot. I enjoyed the first part most, Tom's childhood, as it is a key element for the whole storyline. This book cannot be put down, because you feel you have to know what happens and you have to know the reasons behind so many murders. It is a good stand-alone book, the one that initiated me to the 'Blue Rose' murders series and I have read the rest of the books - this book is highly recommended as a first approach to Straub's 'thriller' genre writing (well apart from his 'horror' genre). ( )
  soniaandree | Oct 4, 2012 |
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I need, therefore I imagine. - Carlos Fuentes
All human society is constructed on complicity in a great crime. - Freud, Peter Gay
For Lila Kalinich and For Ann Lauterbach
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Mill Walk does not exist on any map - let us acknowledge that at the beginning.
The world is half night.
In the end, music did explain everything.
Sometimes life is like a book.
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Book description
A young boy passed beyond the pale of death and returned with no answers - except chilling clues to the ultimate mystery...

An old man spent his life solving mysteries until he wanted to know nothing more of the terror or life and the horror of death...

A beautiful girl - for whom sex held no mystery but whose fate was a question mark - was caught in a whirlpool of forces beyond her control ...

Each was prey to the intrigue that shadowed them, and all the others in their trendy world of wealth, power and pleasure - an evil that reached out from the abyss of the past to haunt the present and claim the living ...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451168690, Mass Market Paperback)

In this chilling novel in Peter Straub's Blue Rose trilogy, characters in a world of wealth, power, and pleasure fall prey to an evil that reaches out from the abyss of the past to haunt the present and claim the living.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:12 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A near-fatal traffic accident and a resulting obsession with death drive Tom Pasmore to join his neighbor, famous retired detective Lamont von Heilitz, in investigating two very different murders.

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