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A Spot of Bother    by Mark Haddon order for
Spot of Bother
by Mark Haddon
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

As he so ably demonstrated in his first bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Haddon has a knack for getting inside the mind of his characters and taking his readers to foreign places.

Quirky is Haddon's forte, and the Hall family fits the bill perfectly. George, the patriarch, discovers a spot on his hip, and hypochondria immediately sets in. Convinced he is dying of cancer, George, as politely as possible, begins his somewhat comical descent into madness. When he inadvertently walks in on his wife, Jean, with another man, he becomes completely unhinged. All of his antics take place while his feisty daughter, Katie, is planning a wedding with Ray, all the while trying to figure out whether she really loves him or rather his ability to take care of her and her son. Jamie is George and Jean's homosexual son, and he is having difficulty sustaining a lasting relationship. In fact, all of the characters find themselves at a crossroads in their love lives, and it was interesting to see how each of them finally resolved their individual crises.

With the exception of Jamie, who had the best storyline, the characters began to wear on me ever so slightly as the book progressed, particularly Jean, the inattentive wife, and Katie, the selfish, volatile daughter. Jamie had the most depth, while George generated sympathy.

Haddon is certainly clever with words and is especially good with the one-liners. His portrayal of a family in crisis is handled with honesty and humor, a compatible combination. Nonetheless, I doubt this sophomore effort will make as big of a splash as the first book, but it would not be a waste of one's weekend to indulge in A Spot of Bother. It might actually make you feel better about your own life.

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