I listen to a lot of audiobooks and have read mysteries for years, so Karin Slaughter’s Martin Misunderstood, an original audio novella, seemed perfect. It wasn’t.
Martin is an obese 36-year-old who lives with his mother. Bullied all his life by his mother and his peers, he’s now bullied by his co-workers at Southern Toilet Supply. Neither Martin nor his mother have any friends, although Martin seems convinced that his co-workers like him.
When one of them is brutally murdered, the evidence points to Martin. When the police question him, he develops an instant attraction to Detective Anther Albada, a fairly pathetic character. To prove to her co-workers that she has a life outside of work, she concocted an imaginary relationship with a lesbian lover. After her co-workers wanted to meet her, Anther was forced to kill her off. She eventually decides that Martin is a rather nice man, if you don’t have to look at him or talk to him.
There were so many things I hated, that I barely know where to begin. Usually I like either the wrongly accused criminal or the detective (or citizen) investigating the crime in a mystery. There wasn’t a single, sympathetic character in this story. Even the victims were repulsive. Further, there are graphic, repeated descriptions of the murder scenes. In such a short work, they were too much.
Instead of focusing on plot, the author spent too much time on disgusting descriptions of the characters and the smells that they encounter, focusing particularly on those resulting from various bodily secretions. I felt alternately nauseated and dirty while listening.
The book is filled with profanity, much of it coming from Martin’s mother. I suppose it was meant to be funny, but the humor felt mean spirited. Martin has a few accidental sexual encounters that are described in unappealing detail. Make no mistake, Martin does not make love.
To even remotely redeem the book, it needed a strong ending. It didn’t have one. In fact, I thought there had to be another chapter, only to have the recording slip directly into an interview with narrator Wayne Knight.
I’m left wondering what the author was thinking. Thank goodness this is just a novella since I can’t imagine suffering through a full-length book. As it was, the two plus hours II spent listening felt more like ten or twenty. What other grade could I possibly give this but an F?