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The Loch

Steve Alten

Average Review Rating Average Rating 6/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Tsunami Books

Published : 2005

Copyright : Steve Alten 2005

ISBN-10 : HB 0-9761659-0-2
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-9761659-0-3

Publisher's Write-Up

Loch Ness holds secrets, ancient and deadly. Does a monster inhabit its depths, or is it just myth? Why, after thousands of reported sightings and dozens of expeditions, is there still no hard evidence?

Marine biologist Zachery Wallace knows, but the shock of his near-drowning as a child on Loch Ness have buried all memories of the incident. Now, a near-death experience suffered while on expedition in the Sargasso Sea has caused these long-forgotten memories to re-surface. Haunted by vivid night terrors, stricken by a sudden fear of the water, Zach finds he can no longer function as a scientist.

Unable to cope, his career all but over, he stumbles down a path of self-destruction... until he receives contact from his estranged father... a man he has not seen since his parents' divorced and he left Scotland as a boy. Angus Wallace, a wily Highlander who never worked an honest day in his life, is on trial for murdering his business partner. Only Zachary can prove his innocence - if he is innocent, but to do so means confronting the nightmare that nearly killed him seventeen years earlier.

Incorporating the latest research and "new evidence," that leads to real answers concerning the monster's identity, best-selling author Steve Alten weaves a tale of horror about the most publicized and controversial creature ever to exist.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nadine (310106) Rating (4/10)
Review by Molly Martin
(070805) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nadine
Rating 4/10
My usual method of selecting new books is to look for Amazon reviewers who like the same books as me, and see what else they recommend. My purchase of “The Loch” came about in this fashion, after reading some glowing reports that promised a rip-roaring adventure with mystery, romance, science fiction and some intriguing history.

I’m afraid I was disappointed. One could argue that the above elements are all present, but what could have been a gripping tale about a modern-day Nessie hunt and the history of the Loch Ness legend was ruined for me by my literary pet hate: Americanisms.

The story is told from the point of view of a Scot who has lived most of his life in America, but returns to Scotland when he hears that his estranged father is on trial for murder. The victim apparently met his end after a fistfight, which landed him in the icy depths of Loch Ness…and his body was never recovered. The hero (an expert in marine biology) embarks on a search for the truth, which uncovers a lot more than he bargained for.

I first felt my hackles rise when it was announced that the accused faced the death penalty. The death penalty? In modern day Scotland? The author’s attempt to explain away this anomaly was thoroughly unsatisfactory, and I found myself pouncing on every subsequent cultural inaccuracy with fangs bared.

For example – I have never met a Scot who calls biscuits “cookies”. Nor do I believe the word “aluminium” to be part of any British person’s vocabulary. I could have forgiven such terms if it was only the Scot-Raised-In-America who used them, but they occurred with distressing regularity in the native Scots’ dialogue, too. (The terribly overdone, almost incomprehensible Scots’ dialogue, I might add.) And it rankled me no end that the leading female, who had the perfectly acceptable Scots name ‘Claire MacDonald’, was known throughout by her middle name: Brandy. It just reinforced the impression that I was reading a book about a British legend that was written by an American, for Americans. I felt like an unwelcome guest at a party in my own house.

It’s such a shame, because it could have been a jolly entertaining yarn. Anyone who is less upset than me by an author’s wilful ignorance of the culture that they are trying to write about would probably lap it up. I must be too sensitive. Just seeing the words ‘color’ and ‘gray’ in a book set in Britain will have me sulking for a whole chapter. This was definitely not the book for me!

The most I can say for “The Loch” is that I finished it. There was some admittedly exciting action towards the end, and the historical aspects of the plot were enough to keep me from giving up in disgust, but redeeming features were rather thin on the ground.
To cap it all, the ending was cheesy and unsatisfying.

The four marks out of ten are granted for the interesting back-story, the showdown towards the end, the killing off of a thoroughly detestable character, and the genuine belly laugh I emitted at the very suggestion of grizzly bears in the Scottish Highlands.

It would have scored six out of ten if the publishers had engaged the services of a Brit-picker before releasing the book in the UK.
Nadine (31st January 2006)

Review by Molly Martin
Rating 8/10
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 ‘dragon’ 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 Zack’s 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 pilot’s 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 Zack’s 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 Agus’ 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.

Alten’s 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 writer’s 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.
Molly Martin (7th August 2005)

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