Wednesday, January 7, 2009

'Mr. X' by Peter Straub


Even though Peter Straub is considered a contemporary horror fiction writer, I would not call Mr. X a typical horror (if there even is such a thing). It is a story told by Ned Dunstan, who on his every birthday experiences seizures during which he witnesses gory murders committed by Mr. X. As Ned’s next birthday approaches, his mother dies and his own death is knocking on Ned’s door. In a short span of time Ned also finds out there’s his doppelganger lurking in shadows. He sets out on a quest to find out the true history of his mysterious family and gets into a lot of trouble on the way.
Mr. Straub has a superb skill in crafting both hilarious and scary characters. I found myself laughing at his clever humor several times. Straub’s real talent however lies in his ability to make a reader believe in the unbelievable. I was finding out one crazy twist after another, yet I never once questioned the probability of them happening in the real life. Despite the fact that I was not necessarily scared witless, I will gladly read many more of Straub’s books. Mr. X read like a perfect mystery/adventure novel with a twisted murderer, psychological suspense and even a little bit of romance. Before having read Mr. X I had always associated Straub with Stephen King, since I read two novels written by both authors (Black House & Talisman), but now I realize that Peter Straub is a great writer of his own, with his own, individual style.