Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tashtego / David Elder

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Approximate word count: 205-210,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


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.

Format/Typo Issues:

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


The Author said...

My many thanks to Big Al for the review but I feel I must correct a wrong impression. Big Al refers to a minor character as "losing his pigeon english" dialect. This was done intentionally as this individual shrouds himself in mystery but then speaks perfect English when he advises the main character of what may lie ahead in his future. He is based upon the soothsayer early in Moby Dick who predicts the demise of all but one.

The Author

Joansz said...

I haven't read the book, so I don't know if the reason for change from pigeon English to the queen's English was shown. Maybe the reason BigAl missed it was because it wasn't shown in the narrative. Sometimes an additional sentence or two is all that's needed.