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on March 18, 2013
In 2006, Dean Koontz published a book called The Husband, about a man whose wife disappears and his quest to get her back from a madman.
In 2008, Andersen Prunty publishes a book, Jack and Mr. Grin, with an eerily familiar set up.
Now, both Prunty and Koontz have very straightforward styles, and are enjoyable to read. Both Prunty and Koontz write fleshed-out characters, and both are enjoyable to read.
Before I go any further, I need to be clear - I don't want for this to be a comparison of the two books, but they are similar, and I have read both, so I would be remiss in not pointing some of these things out.
Obviously, where Koontz stays fairly prosaic in his plotting, Prunty throws you to the melting multi-coloured wolves with rock candy teeth. Mr. Grin is one of the better, and more insidious villains that I've read in quite a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed his interactions with the protagonist. But Mr. Grin could have been written by Koontz, and unfortunately Prunty fails to follow through to the end. The climax isn't, which was disappointing because the build up is superb.
If you want excellent Prunty, read Satanic Summer or Morning is Dead.
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VINE VOICEon December 11, 2012
Book Info: Genre: Bizarro
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of mystery/thrillers with paranormal twist, bizarro
Trigger Warnings: Violence against women, including sexual assault

Disclosure: I picked up this book from Amazon on a free promotion. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Jack Orange is a twenty-something guy who works at a place called The Tent packing dirt in boxes and shipping them off to exotic, unheard-of locales. He thinks about his girlfriend, Gina Black, and the ring he hopes to surprise her with. But when he returns home one day, Gina isn't there. He receives a strange call from a man who sounds like he is smiling--Mr. Grin. He says he has Gina. He gives Jack twenty- four hours to find her.

What follows is Jack's bizarre journey through an increasingly warped and surreal landscape where an otherworldy force burns brands into those he comes in contact with, trains appear out of thin air, rooms turn themselves inside out and computers are powered by birds. And if he does find Gina, how will he ever survive a grueling battle to the death with Mr. Grin?

My Thoughts: By the time I picked up this e-book on Amazon under a KDP promotion, I was just grabbing anything by this author I could find, since I found I quite enjoyed his work.

This one is quite different from the previous books I've read. Whereas the previous books I read tended toward horror or urban fantasy, this one is more along the lines of a thriller, albeit with supernatural aspects.

One thing I have found that I really appreciate about Andersen Prunty is his gift of describing things so perfectly. Take this description of a blandly "corporate" America:
"It looked like every highway exit area on every interstate in America, lined with chain hotels, chain restaurants and chain gas stations. Like the developers had dropped their pants and s**t out what every mid-size city in America had."

The reason I've rated this four stars is not due to any deficiency in the writing, but I rate based upon my enjoyment and I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as I did the last two - I think it's because this just didn't have the same level of dark humor as Satanic Summer and My Fake War. However, it is a well-written and entertaining book, and I think fans of bizarro literature, as well as those who enjoy mystery/thrillers with a paranormal bent will enjoy this book.
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on June 24, 2011
Andersen Prunty's "Jack and Mr. Grin", his third release from Eraserhead Press, is best described as a Bizarro thriller. Jack Orange, a hapless young man working in a dirt-packing facility, comes home to discover his girlfriend has been kidnapped by a sinister entity known only as Mr. Grin. Jack is told he has twenty-four hours to find her. And then...things start getting weird.

Prunty sets a surreal, nightmarish tone that only intensifies as Jack's journey progresses. The longer his search takes, the more insane his surroundings become, reflecting the panic and madness he has been cast into by Mr. Grin.

"Jack and Mr. Grin" is a perfect example of Andersen Prunty's writing ability. The plight of the characters is easily identifiable, and the tension that builds throughout the book is felt by the reader with each turn of the page. Buy this book and experience Prunty's talent first-hand. The man is as underrated as they come, and it's high time we change that.
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on December 20, 2011
I'm not going to lie, parts of this were pretty brutal, but the story really kept me guessing and it was one of those books that you just can't put down until you find out what happens.

Jake leaves his girlfriend, Gina, at home while he runs out to pick up breakfast one Sunday morning. When he returns, Gina is missing and in that moment Jack just knows that something terrible has happened. When he receives a phone call from Mr. Grin, his worst fears are confirmed, and Jack has 24 hours to find the woman he loves or he will lose her forever.

Throughout Jack's odyssey to save Gina Mr. Grin torments him, calling Jack so he can listen to Gina's screams as Mr. Grin tortures her. I really wasn't sure how the author would resolve Gina's abuse -- it was difficult to see how Gina or Jack would be able to move past their ordeal -- but Prunty threw in a couple of nifty twists to ease the reader's heart on that matter. (A big thank you to the author for that, BTW -- I would have finished this book on a very sour note if that hadn't been the case.)

I was very surprised by the identity of Mr. Grin -- I wasn't sure the author would be able to make the villain evil enough to make his actions make sense (he did) or that, in the end, his motives would seem realistic within the framework of the story (again, he pulls it off).

There was also a very sad moment that I thought Prunty turned around in a very interesting way, pulling in what could have been a loose end in order to do so. Very nice!

This is the third book I've read from this author, and I've liked each of them. I will definitely read more of his work.

One final note -- the cover of my copy scared the bejeesus out of my kids, so you might want to be careful leaving it out if your children are also easily frightened! (Because of the cover, though, my kids were extra intrigued by this book and keep asking me if Jack rescued his girlfriend!)
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on October 25, 2011
This struck me as being like a writing class assignment given to a late-teen, early-twenty-something, in which the student decides to write a nightmare as reality. As strange and as many consciously made twists as there were in this book, it became rather dull and actually even had a predictable feel to it, though I can't really say why it felt that way to me.

The best parts of the novel were those that described the characters and their relationships and that showed them interacting. That was what kept me reading through to the end. I wish there had been more of that and less of the standard "this is a bizarre nightmare, but it's all real" shtick -- which, however, might really appeal to another reader.

The book read very fast -- it didn't seem as long as it said the print length was, 196 pages -- and the prose generally flowed pretty well, even when it was describing "impossible" things, making the jumps from one perception of reality to another seamless, if not entirely smooth (probably a conscious choice of the author).

I probably would have written a rave review of this book back when I was about 16, and I do wish that I liked it more. However, I have to say that it's all right, but I won't be seeking out any more like it.
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on April 3, 2012
Jack and Mr. Grin by Andersen Prunty is probably the least bizarre bizarro story I've read so far. The bizzaro sort of stuff doesn't start happening until the ending, and if it wasn't for this, the book could easily be read as a horror novel, or maybe even a thriller. It's the story of a guy named Jack. Jack is living with a girl named Gina, and is planning to propose to her. Unfortunately, a mysterious person who Jack calls Mr. Grin kidnaps Gina. Then he calls Jack up and threatens to kill her if Jack can't find them in 24 hours.

So far it sounds very thriller-ish, yes? Soon it veers into horror territory, because anyone Jack comes into contact with is marked with a strange brand that causes them to hate his guts and, in extreme cases, try to kill him.

The story doesn't really start getting bizarre until Jack figures out where Gina has been taken and who (and what) has taken her. Since I don't want to spoiler it, I won't get into it, but I will say that it does get weird.

I do think that this is a pretty good story, and the ultimate identity of Mr. Grin kept me guessing.
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on November 4, 2011
My first experience with Andersen Prunty was his book The Sorrow King, which I thought was a fantastic read. After finishing it I immediately wanted to read more of his work. I was a little concerned that since I started out with his newest work that maybe I wouldn't enjoy his previous work as much, but that was just dumb, apparently all his books are great.
Jack and Mr. Grin isn't straight forward Bizarro, it has some Bizarro elements to it, but really it's more of a Bizarro thriller. One lazy Sunday Jack goes out to get his girlfriend and himself some breakfast. When he returns he finds his girlfriend is not there. After a quick search of the house he gets a strange phone call from the man who has Gina, a man who sounds like he's grinning. Jack has twenty four hours to find Gina and battle Mr. Grin to the death.
Andersen Prunty does a great job with his characters, keeping them real and making you care about them. Jack goes through a lot of emotional turmoil during his quest, mainly due to the psycholoigical torture that Mr. Grin puts him through.
This was for me another excellent read from Mr. Prunty, and I will look forward to more.
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on October 17, 2012
Jack returns home from procuring a greasy fast food breakfast intending to propose to his lady-love, Gina. BUT...Gina is nowhere to be found.
Jack's cell phone rings and suddenly a nasty man is saying nasty things and making nasty promises. Jack now has just 24 hours to find Gina, or Mr. Grin will make her disappear forever.

And so begins a sick, twisted, and twisty treasure hunt..

This is a taut horror/thriller with supernatural elements and nightmarish imagery. It is violent and oh yes, NASTY at times, so be forewarned.

Unlike many horror novels where the ending is rushed, phony, or a just plain cop-out - ("Let's all hold hands and sing 'Kum Ba Yah' and all the bad spirits will go away!") - this ending fits this book perfectly.
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on May 30, 2012
This was another great read by bizarro writer Anderson Prunty. This time around we have a guy named Jack who is what one might call lazy of some sorts but he doesn't mind as long as he has his girl Gina and their weekends he could care less about his horrible job and mundane existence. But what happens if something or someone effects that little piece of happiness what will you do to get it back. This is what Jack is faced with when he comes back from a routine breakfast trip to find out that his world has been turned on it's head. Follow Jack as he has to find where his happiness went and who this crazy grinning bastard is that has taken his love. Great pacing and story a must for fans of Prunty or good reads.
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on September 26, 2014
Jack Orange returns home and his girlfriend Gina Black is missing. A phone call reveals a thought of a man with a huge "Grin" on his face. Now the real game begins.

Jack goes on a journey to find his girlfriend, a couple twists brings us to a utility shed with what he lease expected.

A bloody horror read for Halloween (or anytime of the year) of what a man will go through to bring his lovers soul back to him.
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