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Avg. Rating: 4
Bring on the mystery
"The Throat" is by far my favorite Peter Straub novel. It is actually the third in a loose trilogy dubbed Blue Rose. The other novels include "Koko" and "Mystery". The protagonist of the novel is Tim Underhill, a Vietnam vet turned author who is obbsessed with the childhood murder of his sister. Now, in the present, the murderer seems to have come back from the dead and is killing people according to the Blue Rose murders of the past. His ally in the case is Tom Pasmore, a modern day Sherlock Holms. The cast of charaters is very rich and well thought out. I thought all the people (not characters) from Tim Underhill and Tom Pasmore all the way to the most periferal folks seem very real and three dementional. The action and details are so authentic and seemed so realistic that at time I had to wonder if it was real or not. I would love to explain about the killer, but I would hate to accidentally give away who the killer is. All I can say is that the killer is one of the most realistic villian in moderen literature, second only to Stephen King's Pennywise from "It". The novel is very deep, it works on many levels; literal, mental, even on a mystical plain. I loved this book, it had no flaws. It is a mystery, a horror novel, a sharp satire on the media, a look at mob psychology, and a look at the fractured psyche of Vietnam vets.
I read Mystery and thought, "how disappointing", because I've read Straub before and was impressed by his wordplay. I then discovered that it was part of a trilogy and started scouting my library. I haven't read Koko (the first book) yet, but managed to get The Throat, the final book of the series.
Fifty pages into it, I was tempted to get out a pad and pen and start again, making notes of all the characters and trying to figure out who the narrator actually was in the context of the events in Mystery, to which he kept referring. The narrator claims to be the author of the events in Mystery, but had written it as fiction - he then goes on to give an account of being hit by a car (as did the major character in Mystery), but under COMPLETELY different circumstances than in the first book and... I give up. It was just far too convoluted for enjoyment.
so much more rewarding than king or koontz
I often see reviews that compare the writing of Peter Straub to that of Stephen King (for obvious reasons) and of Dean Koontz (purely because of the horror genre as far as I am aware). But to me they are illogical comparisons. If you want a contrived plot where man meets woman and they both find salvation from their past horrors through love for each other, read Koontz. If you want to slip into reading something that feels as comfortable as an old slipper, beacuse you've read the same story 10 times before, only in different guises, read King.
However, if you want to read intelligent novels with characters that you care for and who develop over the course of the trilogy, read Koko, Mystery and the Throat - All completely different to each other, yet interlinked beautifully.
I am the first to admit that sometimes Straub's writing can be difficult to get into - it took me 3 attempts over a few years before I was able to finish Mystery for the first time, but now i regularly re read all of Straub's novels (apart from If you could see me now, which is the only one I've not yet been able to get into) and look forward to doing so - to entering the worlds that he creates (even though I am left cold by the constant jazz references!).
Basically, if you're tiring of King and Koontz, finding them too simplistic - read Straub.
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