Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
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Landon Pemper has held a large number of varied jobs whilst travelling. As well as being a drummer in rock bands and working on indie films, Pemper is a writer. Surfer’s Hurricane is his debut novel.
Wannabe surfer Milt is forced to move from his home on the Texas coast to Milwaukee by Hurricane Ike. His closest family, estranged sister and brother in law, live there. When he breaks into their house the phone begins to ring. A mystery woman entices him to a bar. Who is she? What does she want?
Technically there’s nothing wrong with this book, it’s well written and I couldn’t find any issues with punctuation, spelling or grammar. There’s a degree of mystery and some of the characters are strong and engaging. Written in the first person it keeps the reader close to the action. But for some reason it just failed to grab me.
The initial premise when a mystery girl, who he nicknames Divinity, with a sexy voice pulls Milt to a bar is interesting in itself. It appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Then some bad guys start pursuing Milt, seemingly trying to force him to stay away from Divinity. But Milt has fallen for her and can’t help his pursuit of her.
During his journey Milt happens across several broken down rockers – Tanni and Stache along with Mailman Joe. They were the best characters, I felt. Down to earth with a droll sense of humour. They lit the story up whenever in play.
Much is made of Milt’s appearance, a fish out of water – a surfer miles away from the sea. There’s a constant stream of references to both and almost everyone Milt meets comments on it or calls him Surfer. It got a bit repetitive, I didn’t need to be told so many times.
I also struggled a little with the revelations about Divinity’s real existence and the eventual reveal as to why Milt had been pursued by the bad guys.
The author describes Surfer’s Hurricane as humorous and heart-breaking. Well, it had a degree of the former, but little of the latter in truth. In fact the ending was high on the feel good factor. Everything that could come together, did so. If I said any more it would give it away.
All in all, a reasonable read and a promising debut, but not quite enough to fully engage me.
Nothing of note.
Rating: *** Three Stars