Mystery by Peter Straub

My friend  Sharon passed this book on to me when she had finished it. She highly recommended Mystery. I had not read anything Peter-Straubby Peter Straub before, so I took the book on holiday with me to read while I was away at The Clube Humbria, Algarve, Portugal. The hotel is reviewed at https://hotelandrestaurantreviews.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/clube-humbria-algrave-portugal/‎. I have discovered that the author, Peter Francis Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA on 2 March, 1943. The author earned an honors B.A. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965, and an M.A. at Columbia University a year later. He briefly taught English at Milwaukee Country Day, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 1969 to work on a Ph.D., and started to write professionally.

This American author and poet writes horror fiction and has received numerous literary honors such as the Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award and International Horror Guild Award.  Mystery, however, is more of a detective novel than a horror story.

The beginning of the book rather mirrors an episode in the author’s early life. At the age of seven, Straub was struck by a car, sustaining serious injuries. He was hospitalized for several months and he read voraciously from an early age. Likewise, in Mystery, ten year old Tom Passmore is hit by a car and nearly dies. During hospitalization Tom becomes interested in reading, and he reads many novels, but he becomes gripped by one kind in mysteryparticular: mysteries.

Tom becomes interested in detective work, but on the  island of Millwalk not everyone appreciates the boy’s hobby. Mystery is the second volume of a trilogy (the first was Koko) but Mystery stands well on its own. The book is rich in characterisation, compelling plot, interesting location, excellent prose and of course the mysteries. It is really a good detective novel. It is vividly and skilfully written with excellent use of atmosphere and subtlety. Mystery is a tense novel well worth reading.

Valerie Penny

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