Nutshell: A Novel, by Ian McEwan

In a strikingly unusual short novel Ian McEwan writes a mystery from the perspective of a baby in the womb of a murderer.

The baby is a constant eavesdropper to his mother Trudy’s life. She has kicked her poet-husband John out of the family townhouse in London, and has taken up with John’s brother, the handsome and dull Claude. The baby listens through their small talk and sexual encounters and decision to murder John for possession of the townhouse they believe will sell for £7-million.

The sophisticated near-term narrator has his own worries, such as being put up for adoption to poor people, as he listens in on the cold blooded plot.

McEwan has created a wonderful narrator who comes across as more intelligent and sympathetic than any of the adults he can hear through his mother’s stomach walls. Along with the conversations in the house he has listened in on educational podcasts his mother hears, and put things together from John and Claude’s love talk to be able to describe his mother’s looks. It’s a fun and unusual story unlike any I’ve read before.