Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Martin Misunderstood

"Martin Misunderstood" is my first exposure to Karen Slaughter's writing so I came to this audio CD not knowing what to expect as to her writing style and tone. Slaughter is certainly a popular author, having appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and having been successfully published in 26 different languages, so I expected at the very least, to be entertained for a couple of hours as I drove between Houston and northwestern Kentucky.

And, for the most part, I was.

Martin Reed, a grossly overweight schmuck who would probably be unattractive even if his weight was under control, lives with his witch of a mother and is still being tormented by some of the same people who made him miserable in high school. He holds a senior accounting job with Southern Toilet Supply but is such a wimp that even the company’s worst employees mouth off to him with no fear of reprisal. Simply put, the man is a mess. He has no friends, especially female friends, suffers constant verbal abuse from his mother, and his only escape is to lose himself in the countless mysteries, thrillers, and sci-fi novels he reads on a continuous basis.

When some of Martin’s co-workers become victims of a gruesome murderer, and blood is found on the bumper of his car, others in the office seem almost eager to help the police pin the murders on him. And for lots of weirdly personal reasons, Martin seems almost content to let it happen even if he winds up on Death Row as a result.

“Martin Misunderstood” is a jarring combination of comedy and violence, something by itself that would probably earn it an “R” rating, so parents of young children should be warned to listen to this one without the kids around. The “F-word” makes an appearance or two, the sex scenes tend to be extremely graphic (and, on occasion, borderline disgusting), and the murders are detailed in all of their gruesome glory.

Wayne Knight, of Seinfeld fame, does the reading of the story in a largely straight-ahead fashion, not making much of an effort to give each of the characters a distinct voice or accent. For example, the voice and accent that Knight uses for Martin is almost exactly the same one that he uses for the female police officer trying to prove that he is a killer. Those who prefer that their audio books be “read” rather than “acted” will likely appreciate Knight’s approach, but those who prefer more of a “presentation” than a “reading” might be a little disappointed.

“Martin Misunderstood” is interesting enough that I will probably take a look at Karin Slaughter’s books next time I visit a bookstore…might even buy one if they aren’t all along the lines of “Martin Misunderstood.” I’m not ready for a steady diet of guys like Martin Reed.

Rated at: 3.0


  1. Why does this sound a bit like "A Confederacy of Dunces?" Maybe because the protagonist is such a loser?

  2. I think that's exactly the reason, Factotum...only Martin Reed is even less likable than is the main character of "A Confederacy of Dunces," if you can imagine that.

  3. I'm a HUGE Karin Slaughter fan, and I have been intrigued to check this audio out since I first heard about it. It really doesn't sound a lot like Karin's typical work...she can be graphic at times, but her talent with suspense is absolutely phenonmenal. And her character development is among the best as far as I'm concerned. I still feel like I haven't quite figured Lena out from the Grant County series, but that makes her all the more dynamic and fun.

  4. Jen, I'd love to hear what you think of this one in comparison to her other work. This is really a short story of sorts (I'm estimating that it would be about sixty pages long, or so) so it's hard to compare to a novel...but some of it was a little strong for my tastes in what was probably a comedy of sorts. It was a jarring combination, to say the least.

  5. http://www.zipidee.com/MartinMisunderstood


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