The Loch (2005), Steve Alten.
Review by Tom Paskins, University of Stirling
Taking a break from Megaladon’s but still remaining firmly within the realms of crypto zoology, The Loch is Alten’s attempt to breathe fresh life into what is perhaps the most famous monster myth of all time, the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.
Set above and beneath the water line of the world famous Loch, Alton delivers a whole sea of Clichéd characters who are accompanied by a Tsunami of ridiculous dialogue and situations. Groans of frustration are guaranteed upon discovering that the central protagonist, marine biologist Zachary Wallace, is a direct descendent of, you guessed it, William Wallace. It will also be difficult not to collapse with laughter when his father Angus, who is on trial for murder, uses Nessie as an alibi. Especially since this is what ultimately acts as the trigger for the investigation into the depths of Loch Ness to find out if a creature really inhabits it and therefore substantiate his claim.
Nevertheless when it comes to the creature itself, Alten avoids the obvious and has gone to great lengths to avoid drawing on most of the popular mythology surrounding it and eventually comes up with a much more scientific sounding explanation which appears to be well researched and credible. By refusing to describe the monster in all its hideous glory until the final fifth of the book, he successfully infuses the attack sequences with a similar sense of the primal terror to that experienced in Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). This was something which was disappointingly absent from his rather unsubtle, albeit entertaining Meg series. The backdrop of the Loch with its mists and the surrounding highland scenery also comes across as being suitably menacing. To top it off the link that Nessie is ultimately revealed as having with Scottish history and the time of Robert the Bruce is imaginative and intriguing.
So while it is not exactly Radcliffe, The Loch is a perfectly enjoyable, gripping and at times even frightening holiday read. You will never be able to look at a smiling, cuddly Nessie in quite the same way again.
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