Steve Alten’s The Loch was a grocery store impulse buy for me, and I have to admit I was drawn in by the promise in the blurb of a scientist guy haunted by a drowning experience in his childhood and being driven back to Loch Ness in Scotland to investigate whether the monster is really real. Sounds like fun, I said to myself.
Problem is, as grocery store impulse buys often do, the book just didn’t work for me over all. Our hero’s father is one big reason; the man’s an abusive prat, and constantly maligns his son’s manhood, calling him “lass” and randomly chosen feminine names practically every time he addresses him. And yet this is apparently all for the altruistic purpose of making Zach face his childhood fears. Um, what? Really? I gritted my teeth practically every time the character opened his mouth, and when Zach actually finally called his dad on his abusive asshattery, it really was too little too late for proper emotional satisfaction, even if it does shut dear old Daddy up.
Also, although this is less the fault of this book in particular and more the fault of being a general trope: I am generally crankier these days about romance plots that equate strong lust with actual love at first sight. I did sympathize with our hero getting dumped by his annoying fiancee after his initial accident, but wound up losing a good bit of that sympathy as his romance with his Actual Love Interest played out. Too many overused romance cliches, there.
Now, all this said, I did at least like the book well enough that I kept reading to the end, and it was doing interesting things with tying in the history of the Loch Ness monster to a centuries-old Jesuit conspiracy and a secret order. And it did have at least a bit of decent suspense. So overall, I’ll give it two stars.