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Mr. X

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  4,060 ratings  ·  140 reviews
The award-winning new supernatural thriller from the acclaimed author of Ghost Story, Koko, The Throat and The Talisman.

Every year on his birthday, Ned Dunstan has a paralysing seizure in which he is forced to witness scenes of ruthless slaughter perpetrated by a mysterious figure in black whom he calls Mr X. Now, with his birthday fast approaching, Ned has been drawn back
Paperback, 626 pages
Published March 28th 2001 by Harper Collins (first published July 20th 1999)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,060 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Sabella Daiabczenko
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Although there was some wonderful writing in this book, overall it fell flat for me. Too many characters, too much "hopping" about, too little of the truly interesting Mr X, and much too much of the other, not very intriguing cast members. Also, it took a long time and a ridiculous amount of self-impressed exposition to finally get to the point of the story. The book was about 1/3 longer than it should have been, and frustrating and tedious to read in points because of this.
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought "The Throat" was one of the best-written novels ever published, lots of complexity, mysteries within mysteries, satisfying ending, finely drawn characters, all over a fun experience. My impression of "The Talisman" and "Black House," collaborations with Stephen King, was that they were superb. "Shadowlands" was a confusing miasma but had an interesting premise.

(update several days later) To tell you the truth, I went online to see if I could make sense of my confusion regarding "Mr. X
Aug 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror-fiction
I am a big Straub fan to begin with--have enjoyed nearly all of his books--despite his work with Stephen King, I think he is quite different. This book was particularly enjoyable to me as I am a huge Lovecraft fan and this is clearly his love letter to Lovecraft. Great fun for Lovecraft fans in picking out the Lovecraftian imagery, names of books and characters scattered throughout the story---all the while winking wildly at the fans--no attempts at imitation, just sincere flattery and making us ...more
Paul James
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: peter-straub
This is one of the most difficult books I have read. When reading it I struggled at points to follow it but the last paragraph of the book made perfect sense and I realised that it was possibly the way the book was intended. A few years after reading I am still perplexed by this novel.

How good can a story be if you struggle to read it but then are left unable to stop thinking about it. I have come to the conclusion that Peter Straub is the best writer I have ever read. Ghost story was good with
Mar 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I like the idea of this story, but the book itself.....just didn't fill me with joy. I can't put my finger on what I didn't enjoy exactly, and there were parts that I certainly enjoyed, but it just left me unfulfilled in the end.
Tamar Love
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Although I loved the Blue Rose series and The Hellfire Club, my favorite works by Straub are those that focus on paranormal plot lines, like Ghost Story, Shadowland (my favorite!) and Floating Dragon. When I picked up Mr. X, I was delighted to find that Straub had returned to his paranormal past.

The story was fresh and the writing tight and captivating. The plot itself was highly original, and the working in of Lovecraft was brilliant. I hadn't read "The Dunwich Horror," and when I realized how
Mr. Gottshalk
Wow. I had some idea that Peter Straub could write, having read his co-authoring of The Talisman many years ago. There's no question he is a great talent - maybe too much so for me.
Either this book is lacking a great editor or I didn't eat enough blueberries and carrots in the last week, because I constantly had to keep thinking back about this strange Dunstan family and how they seem to have...unusual connections to half of a small southern Illinois town. Some passages were terrific, and blaze
Andrea Blythe
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
At heart this dark fantasy novel is about the twisted truths that lie at the heart of one's family history and whether it's better to leave secrets buried or dig them up. Peter Straub does an amazing job of unraveling pieces of information that slowly form into at larger picture. His characters are complex and fascinating, which makes the story absolutely compelling with an ending that kind of blew my mind and makes me want to go back and read it again. Fantastic book.
Esther King
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
This provided a counterpart to my other Lovecraftian read from this week, but this was certainly the weaker of the two. I really enjoyed some scenes in here, but I felt like there were a lot of missed chances and a lack of characterisation of most of the people. I really liked the Mr X parts of this book, but to be honest, there was very little scare and a lot of family politics.

I think the scene with the army cadets was one of those pivotal points where you do get a sense of the kind of horror
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot of this novel focuses on Ned Dunstan (born June 25, 1958), who has had precognitive visions since childhood and returns home to Edgerton, Illinois from New York after anticipating that his mother, Star Dunstan, is dying. As Star lays dying in the Intensive Care Unit after suffering a stroke, she reveals the name of the Ned's father, the mysterious Edward Rinehart. Following his mother's death, Ned begins to trace his paternal lineage with the help of his great aunts Nettie, May, and Joy ...more
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Like all of Straub's best, this book simply grabbed me and would not let me go. Straub has a way of writing... I'm not sure how to describe it, but it may put some people off to begin with. But persevere and the rewards are there. The narrative he weaves here is becomes so increasingly layered and complicated it's hard to believe it can ever tie up all it's loose ends. But it does, in this compelling, thrilling and very strange story.
Ashley Johnson
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
So far so good lol. I dont actually know whats going on at this point, but then I rarely do with Peter Straub until about midway through when all the pieces come together.
Kevin Lucia
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, a book that makes me think: "I'll never write as fine as this..."
Rebecca McNutt
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, fiction, thriller
Mr. X, part mystery and part horror, is a strange and nightmarish story and it's very well-written, although sometimes it gets rather confusing.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: paranormal
'Really cryptic and pulsating supernatural thriller, involving the lives of a community that has been close knit for centuries' was my one sentence review in 2008, when I originally read it... which conveniently excludes the main protagonist and Mr X himself! One of my fave Straub, with possible unreliable narrators, a rather large casts and an engaging storyline. As a big Stephen King fan the over plotting and overwriting was welcome, but some may not like it as much. 8 out of 12.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Not nearly as satisfying as the Lovecraft stories it tries to embody. A cool premise, characters with telekinetic powers, time travel, and an obsession with H.P. Lovecraft cannot save this novel from being nearly indecipherable. I've found this book on several internet lists of "difficult reads" -- that, I believe, is something of an understatement.

This novel is complex, convoluted, fast-moving, and just plain strange. It takes an enormous amount of concentration and analysis to follow the plot
Apr 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: timothy
Recommended to Clem by: descriptive item
....thinking the stuff is heavy to bear and to write down the story still more sucking it is a prelaude to the author to have accomplished his task leaving the readers public the choice between the unknown shadows of the backyard alley or the 'between-the-curtains-eye' by the tiny invisisble 'spot-with-the-little tissue-piece'. Might be both the possiblities open a scenery, the suspense quickly closes them to take us with to the dangers of mr. X'...his life, his weaknesses, his likes....and we e ...more
Rebekah Mann
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
This has taken me so long to get through. I feel like I was just plowing through page after page without really registering what I was reading. It's a very complicated family history and the way the layers are sllllooooowly peeled back makes you feel like you have to keep going back and rereading just to figure out what's going on. The most endearing characters are killed off and the more annoying leeching ones stick through to the end. I think. I don't know because hit the "climax" and still ha ...more
Feb 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was keen to read Straub because he co-wrote The Talisman with Stephen King, a big favourite of mine. My copy of Mr.X also had an endorsement from King on the cover. Sadly I felt no connection with Straub's writing and had a hard time getting into the book.
Ellie Rodriguez
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is a slow beginning. Some of the back and forth a little confusing but if you stick to it it picks up with a bang! Good so far.
I finished the book and it confused me greatly. Still a good read I liked it but not as much as some of his other novels.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Not his best novel, but still pretty good. Many characters, a lot of hopping around between times and scenes. Pity a novel with so many characters with supernatural abilities could not keep its action flowing more constantly.
Mar 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Oh man this book is awesome. It's like Peter Straub and Lovecraft had a baby and it was this book.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Straub is a great author. This isn't his best (Ghost Story), but is an interesting book with a unique concept. Great characters (especially the aunts).
Michelle Alderfer
Jul 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Eh....not the worst book I've ever read. It had its moments but most of the time I had to fight to get through it.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quite the story! Not my usual reading but definitely a complicated and intriguing story.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
"Rinehart, Rinehart
I'm a most indifferent guy..."

Much to admire in Straub's recombining of a bunch of classic tropes.
Michael J.
Mister X is an ambitious and often maddening work that straddles several sub-genres within the horror category, perhaps disappointing several readers who were expecting this to be more frightening. It certainly starts out that way. The back-cover description and the beginning chapters of this book seemingly set-up the reader for a thrill-ride with lots of grisly murders and scary occurrences. Mister X is told in first person and each chapter rotates between two characters, one seemingly grounde ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
3.5/5 or 7/10
For my full review, please visit Casual Debris.

The main plot and its related threads begin well into the novel, as protagonist Ned Dunstan returns to his home town of Edgerton, Illinois, sensing that his mother is in danger. In Edgerton he takes on the task of discovering his father's identity, a man seemingly obsessed with Lovecraft to the point that he believes his works are fact. Over the course of a few days, Ned is being pursued by a dark entity he refers to as Mr. X, meets his
Kevin Murphy
I'm not typically one that gets scared by books. Films tend to scare me more. This book is no exception. It wasn't really "scary" at all.

That said, I really enjoyed the characters. I found this book INCREDIBLY difficult to read. As much as I wanted to get into it, and really enjoy it, I couldn't. The narrative was jumbled, especially Mr. X's chapters. The last 80 pages of the book was akin to the end of a James Bond film, where everything gets explained in dialogue instead of shown to the reade
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Reading Peter Straub is like wandering through a maze with false exit signs painted above false doors. The story is confusing and bewildering, and when you are finished you are left with a creased brow and glazed eyes. That is also the wonderful side of reading Peter Straub. He weaves tales like few other writers, using intricate relationships between characters to confuse and delight the reader.
This book is one of his lesser-known works, and I understand why. It is difficult to read because
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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy

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