Molly's Reviews

The Loch
Steve Alten
Tsunami Books

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Spine tingling Read ... Recommended ... 4 stars

The narrative opens with a prologue date 13 September 1330 in which the reader meets one William Calder, second Thane of Cawdor who stands on an outcropping of rock near the confluence of the river Ness and the North Sea. From that beginning the reader is next set 887 miles due east of Miami Beach. The Sargasso Sea is the setting for the beginning of the tale, and it is the end. Zachary Wallace was a nine year old when Angus, his father insisted the lad peer into the water of the Loch where a Ďdragoní lair lay. Not long after Zack and his mother left his father in Scotland and set out for her native land. Settling in New York Zack thrived under the kind tutelage of his middle school science teacher. In time Zack became a success following his dream to become a marine biologist. The fly in Zackís ointment was David James Caldwell II, the self promoting hack who was head of Florida Atlantic University. While on a National Geographic expedition searching for giant squid Zack finds himself going toe to toe with Dr. Caldwell who insists upon linking Zack with the Loch Ness Monster. A throbbing migraine, the Bloop, near death aboard a submarine and Zack is left weak and drained. With his wedding postponed, permanently, Zack is horrified to hear that the pilot of submarine was lost, the University considers him a albatross and the pilotís family will be suing. Before long Zack is up to his neck in phobic reaction, trying to make time with a statuesque young woman and trying to make some sense out of what is happening to him. Night terrors, battles with his psychiatrist and trying to find peace in a bottle became Zackís life until he made the acquaintance of Max Rael. Zack is not altogether surprised to learn he and Max were both fathered by Angus who now needs his sons to come and offer emotional support as he goes to trial for murder. What follows is an exciting read filled with historical touches including Sir William Wallace, something in the Loch, night terrors, a woman with phobias of her own, and Agusí trial.

Writer Alten presents a fast-paced read filled with all the tumult the reader can hope for in this anecdote of a man coming to grips with himself and his past, present and future. From the opening lines as we peer into the deep blue waters of the Moray Firth right to the last pages when we find Zack married, with a child on the way, his night terrors a distant memory and National Geographic again funding his expeditions "The Loch" holds reader interest fast.

Altenís characters are well thought out zesty individuals, dialog is full of grit and acceptable, settings swell with particulars in this well written work. It is obvious Writer Alten has done a good bit of research into the background surrounding Loch Ness and the myths surrounding it as well as investigation into the marine world and those who delve its depths. The storyline making up The Loch is filled with twists, turns and puzzlement. This Scottish descendant especially delighted in the writerís lapses into history, vernacular and accent on the Scottish countryside. First-hand witness chronicles of those who have seen, or are convinced they have seen something in the Loch as well as bits and pieces of chronicled fact add to reader enjoyment.

This forceful, well-written narrative is one you will want to complete in one sitting, so decide on a time when you can read the text from beginning to end. This is not a soft and light little tale for when you are home alone and the electricity is flickering. "The Loch" is an admirable addition to the home pleasure library. Occasional profanity may cause some readers to shy away from this worthwhile, spine tingling tale.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.




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© 2005 by Molly Martin