Murder in Mount Holly

Paul Theroux. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $22 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2604-7
First published in the U.K. in 1969, Theroux’s slight caper novel, set in the small American town of Mount Holly, uneasily mixes dark comedy and violence. Herbie Gneiss, who’s quit college at the urging of his hypochondriac, overweight widowed mother, is looking into work at Kant-Brake Toys, a local factory. After landing a job there, Herbie moves to a rooming house run by Nettie Ball, who has another Kant-Brake employee as a lodger, Charlie Gibbon, “a fuddy-duddy, not a geezer,” who later falls for Herbie’s mom. After Herbie is drafted, Nettie, Charlie, and Mrs. Gneiss decide to rob “a communist bank,” to “prove to the world that old folks still had a lot of spunk left.” Bodies soon start to drop. It’s a subpar effort for the prolific Theroux, best known for his travel books (Ghost Train to the Eastern Star). (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2011
Release date: 12/01/2011
Paperback - 148 pages - 978-0-8021-5510-8
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