As someone who writes regularly on the subject of monsters and mysterious animals in the real-world (such as the Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest, the Chupacabra of Puerto Rico, and the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas), I’m occasionally asked what I think about cryptids in the world of fiction. Well, my answer to that question is pretty much the same as it would be if someone asked me for my opinions on non-fiction books of a cryptozoological nature. Namely, there have been good ones, there have been okay ones, and there have been truly forgettable ones. But, just occasionally, along comes a definitively classic story. And, one of those is most certainly Steve Alten’s The Loch.
You might well deduce from its title that The Loch revolves around what is certainly the world’s most famous lake-monster. We’re talking about Nessie, the long-necked beast (or, to be more accurate, beasts) said to haunt the dark and mysterious waters of Scotland’s 23-mile-long Loch Ness. Steve’s book was published back in 2005. I have to confess, however, that I unfortunately failed to secure a copy when it first surfaced. Indeed, it was a few years later that I finally got my hands on a copy. But, I’m glad I did.
I can say for sure that The Loch is a winner – and on several levels, too. Steve is an excellent writer whose fast-paced style flows well. He skillfully weaves a story that is intriguing, thought-provoking, and exciting. And the book is packed with tales of historical conspiracy, modern day science, Scottish-American romance, and murder and mayhem. Not forgetting, of course, a gigantic, water-based, marauding monstrosity.
In addition, the characters within the book are neither stereotypical nor one-dimensional. Rather, Steve presents his audience with a fine cast of players that the reader can both relate to and believe in – and from the very first page and right up until the absolute last sentence. Not only that, and perhaps more importantly, Steve presents a theory to explain the presence of the beasts of Loch Ness that is highly plausible. And, in my view, possibly very close to the actual truth of the centuries-old mystery that has perplexed, fascinated and enthralled generations of monster-hunters, thrill-seekers and tourists.
It’s clear that a huge amount of research went into the preparation and writing of The Loch. It’s for that particular reason, I suspect, that Steve may have come closer than most to understanding the reality of what possibly lurks within that vast body of water. How ironic that a writer of fiction may have solved the puzzle that has flummoxed countless real-life investigators of the unexplained for decades. Time will tell – providing, of course, that one day we finally get our hands on a living or dead Nessie which can be examined.
You will, by now, have noticed that I have been very careful not to give away too much about the plot, the theories, and the conclusions that are presented within the book. There’s a very good reason for that. I don’t want you to overlook what is truly a great read – as I unfortunately did for so long. Rather, I hope my words above will convince each and every one of you to get a copy of The Loch. I absolutely guarantee that you will not be disappointed. The Loch is a terrifically dark tale that you will be thinking about, musing upon, and discussing with your friends long after you read its final pages.