Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mr. Peanut

Adam Ross

The copy of Mr. Peanut from my local public library has a green sticker on the spine that says "Mystery." One might conclude that the book was a story about who done it, but one would be wrong. The mystery in Mr. Peanut is "what the H. E. double hockey sticks is going on?" Which is not to say that it is a badly written book. On the contrary it is a highly readable literary novel that should not be put in the "mystery" ghetto.

The book does start out with the death of one of the main characters, an apparent suicide by allergic reaction to peanuts. Alice Peppin's husband, David, does have a fantasy life which revolves around her demise, either by murder or accident, and he is secretly writing a novel about it.This is the literary part of things - David Peppin's novel melds with Adam Ross's novel. He tries of various alternate endings and presents them to the reader in a serial menu of Alice deaths.

The entire middle part of the book is dedicated to Dr. Sam Sheppard and the murder of his wife, Marilyn in 1954. This is actually the part of the book that I found most absorbing. It was a well crafted character study of a man who had multiple extramarital affairs. The events surrounding the murder remain as murky as they were during Shepard's actual trial - although the boor reverts back to the present and the Peppin's long before any trial. There is no mention of a one armed man.

The novel then jarringly jumps to an earlier time in the lives of Alice and David Peppin, probably in the mid to late 1990's. Once the reader settles in to this section it becomes an interesting character study of these two young people, dealing with a miscarriage while on a flight to Hawaii . Then it jumps back to the beginning, I mean the end, where several alternative deaths are presented for Alice and a mysterious yet irrelevant person named Mr. Mobius is introduced.

In Adam Ross' fictional universe Sam Sheppard has become a police detective in New York and is part of the team investigating the death of Alice Peppin. This ignores the fact that the historical Sam Sheppard died in 1970. Since David Peppinis a successful designer of games, including massive multiplayer online games it's unlikely that the events in his part of Mr. Peanut take place in the late '60s.

I enjoyed, yet was frustrated by reading Mr. Peanut. It seemed to me to be an attempt to write a post modern, self referential, novel using perhaps the outward form and trappings of the popular murder mystery but without delivering any of the action moving plot techniques that are part of that genre. That would be hard to do, of course, when the course of the book jumps back half a century to people and events that have only a tangential, thematic, relationship with the original story. I think there is the beginning of a great piece of historical fiction in that middle section, waiting to be born.


This post is in the 53rd

Book Review Blog Carnival

Keywords: novel, literature, crime fiction, Dr. Sam Sheppard, the fugitive

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Review Blog Carnival #51

Welcome to the 51st edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival. The carnival has appeared every other Sunday, somewhere in the blogosphere since September of 2008. If you write book reviews on your blog, you can participate in the second birthday edition by submitting a link to one of your reviews here. You can also follow the carnival by joining our Facebook page.


Lisa Sheppard won't tell what book ruined her summer vacation on her blog at - Local Writing from the Heartland.


Mark teaches us what a tie-in book is, in My Nightstand - August 2010 Edition posted at Random Ramblings from Sunny Southern CA.

JHS, of Colloquium, laughed, guffawed and snorted at Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me by Maya Jax.

Zohar, AKAMan of La Book, was thrilled (mostly) by the new political thrillerThe Confirmation by former Christian Coalition leader, Ralph Reed. Young Adult Fiction

Heather, at Proud Book Nerd, was not put off by the novel Glimpse being written entirely in verse.

Is something set in the mesolithic period historical fiction? Jim Murdoch ponders this question in his review of The Gathering Night by Margaret Elphinstone, posted at The Truth About Lies.

The Invisible Mountain, by Carolina de Robertis tells the story of 90 years of the life of a woman in Uraguay.
Zohar reviews it at Man of La Book.

Crime Fiction

KerrieS saysTHE WOODCUTTER by Reginald Hill will make you think. Think about it at MYSTERIES in PARADISE.

GUNSHOT ROAD by Adrian Hyland is a murder mystery featuring aboriginal Austrailians, as suspect and victim as well as investigator. KerrieS reviews it at MYSTERIES in PARADISE.

Science Fiction

Jeanne, of Necromancy Never Pays, did not read the free ebook version of Arkfall. She read it the old fashioned way - on bound paper.

Izgad has this theory about salvation through Submission to Law that he believes he shares with Isaac Asimov and he usesThe Stars Like Dust too illustrate his idea.


"As a fantasy lover, this book, (The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima) makes me happy. (Although, a unicorn or two would make me even happier!", Says Heather, of Proud Book Nerd.

Short Fiction

Jim Murdoch taught me a new term in his review of The White Road by Tania Hershman posted at The Truth About Lies - flash fiction.

Audio Books

Mr. Audio Books listened to all 34 hours of Under the Dome, by Stephen King.

Non Fiction

Janna Voss is keeping a secret from us about Zeitoun, even though she reviews it at Primo Reads.

Zohar, Man of La Book, loves Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books Too Much.

Zohar is a double agent. He also giving us his review of Son of Hamas by Mosab Hasson Yousef.

Rick Sincere mocks Paulina Borsook's 'Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-Tech' in Book Reviews by Rick Sincere.

Persha Davis, of Dumped Days reviewed Michael Baisden'sNever Satisfied: How & Why Men Cheat. She says "I was left with the distinct feeling that there’s really no trusting anyone in this world, male or female!"

BWL will help teach you 100 Ways To Save and Grow Your Money at Christian Personal Finance.


Women's Eye on Media calls The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandel a graphic memoir.

Eric Gargiulo rocks out with Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir by Dave Mustaine, at


Zohar, Man of La Book, was uninspired by American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood by Marc Eliot. Perhaps the term rebel needs a new image.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cyber War

The Next Threat To National Security And What To Do About It
Richard A. Clarke

Richard Clarke was the go to guy for counterterrorism on the National Security Council from the time of George H.W. Bush through the Clinton years and into the George W. Bush administration, which then made him their cyber security guy and ignored his advice. Cyber War is his attempt to tell the Obamanites and the general public what is at stake online and what he thinks should be done about it.

So what is at stake? According to Clarke, the entire electrical grid, including nuclear power plants, the telephone system, air traffic control, railroads, Wall Street, the U.S. Army, Navy Air Force and Marines are all vulnerable to attack via the internet. What he means is that every account in every bank could suddenly be reset to zero dollars; power plants could be made to overload themselves and break down, or melt down; aircraft could be made to collide in mid air; our hyper technological stealth aircraft could fall like stones from the sky; ships could become stranded, dead in the water.

Many countries have developed the ability to attack the infrastructure of potential opponents through respective internet systems. Clarke claims that the U.S. is the world leader in the development of offensive cyber weapons. The problem with that is that the U.S. is also the most vulnerable to attack by the cyber weapons of other nations and lags far behind countries like China in cyber defense capabilities, and some countries- North Korea springs to mind -  have hardly any dependence on the internet at all, yet are capable of devastating attacks on us. Because of the openness of our internet infrastructure and our ever increasing dependence on it for commerce, communication industry and even the military, we are sitting ducks.

The Defense Department has developed some capability to protect it's systems from attack, however, because it uses the trunk lines of the civilian internet to connect it's world spanning operations, those systems are still vulnerable. There is no one in government who takes responsibility to defend the civilian internet from attack. The FBI investigates some cyber crime, after the fact, and prosecutes some criminals, when they can be found. Businesses are supposed to provide their own protection. This includes even the Federal Reserve.

Clarke suggests a three pronged approach to hardening the internet in the U.S. First the major, trunk ISPs should be required to monitor traffic for signatures of cyber attack, using a "deep packet inspection system"; second, the electrical power grid should be secured, using a system parallel to the internet, but not connected t it, to control power stations, third, harden the systems of Department of Defense, using separate infrastructure and encryption to prevent interferance with our military capabilities.

Federal regulation would be needed to enforce compliance by the major ISPs and electrical systems. The political ramifications of additional Federal regulation of anything make all fo this a difficult sell, to say the least. Clarke wrote Cyber War in order to move the U. S. in this direction. Only if citizens are informed about the danger and the need for action, can politicians do what needs to be done to protect us from the possibility of a devastating attack. Good luck with that.

This post is in the 52nd

Book Review Blog Carnival


Labels: internet security, cyber war, Richard Clarke