Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 205-210,000 words
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An Ohio native, David Elder is an attorney in Northern Michigan. In addition to this book, he has one other, The Gingerbread Man, currently available and another, The Will of the Wisp, poised for publication, with a fourth in progress. For more, visit Elder’s website.
“Daggoo, Queequeg and Tashtego. The three harpooners from Melville's classic Moby Dick. It is 1984 and Royal St.Vincent, a muscle car engineer from General Motors in Detroit, hits the bottle after a bitter divorce. When the bottle is finally empty, he wakes up in Islemorada Florida and ready to start a new life. He buys the sixty foot sports fishing boat, the Makaira, and settles into his new career as a happy deep sea sports fishing captain surrounded by his colorful friends in the Florida Keys.
One day the unthinkable happens. He is approached by the more than beautiful girl Scotty from Miami who wants to charter a trip. Suspicious of her and her mysterious friends, and against his better judgment, he takes the trip
and his life is never the same again.”
In the description of this novel, Elder mentions Scarface as a touchstone, which was a connection I’d made as well, in that it takes place in mid-80s Florida and has plenty of bad guys, guns, and cocaine. He also mentions Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, saying it is “loosely based” on this. Somehow, I’ve missed actually reading this book (I probably volunteered for a couple extra helpings of Hemingway to dodge that one), but know enough to say that I can at least spot the loose connections. Much of the book centers around the sea. There is a big fish that makes a few appearances. It is long (over 200,000 words and very close to the length of Melville’s fish story). A few characters are named after Melville’s, and most importantly, the story is about a man who becomes obsessed.
There is much to like about this story. Some of the characters are larger than life and the major characters are easy to relate to, in spite of, or maybe partially due to, their flaws. For those who like vicarious adventure, you’ll find plenty.
There were some minor proofing issues and two relatively trivial issues I found. The first problem was with a minor character. When we first meet him, he “talks” in a kind of Pidgin English. He does this a lot the first couple paragraphs of dialogue, and then his “accent” completely disappears. A little accent goes a long way with most readers and it is tough to pull off for many authors. If your character needs an accent, don’t overdo it, and keep it reasonably consistent throughout his or her dialogue. The other issue I had was the use of the phrase “but yet” when either “but” or “yet” would have served the same purpose. While it may not break any grammatical rules (I honestly don’t know), it doesn’t read very smoothly, at least not to me.
Adult language and situations.
A small number of typos and proofing errors. Additionally, although I didn’t count them in determining this, the author under uses commas. There were many places where I thought a comma should be that it wasn’t, and others where I was sure a comma was missing.
Rating: **** Four stars