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Anthony Schmitz is a boat builder who lives in St. Paul, MN. His previous novels are Darkest Desire: The Wolf's Own Tale (Ecco) and Lost Souls (Random House/Available Press).
on Oct. 19, 2012 :
Interesting short work. The premise is explained by the title, literally - there is a mermaid in Las Vegas. What it doesn't tell you is that this mermaid is real, or that she has a different "name" for what she is. That comes out later on.
This is part gum-shoe detective mystery and part fantastical journey to the world of circus freaks. Oh wait, the world of circus freaks is just your typical day/night in Vegas. Or is it? The story is narrated by Tommy, who happens to be a casino 'dick' - a guy who is so average looking you could have a long conversation with him one night and walk right past him an hour later and not even see him, let alone recognize him.
Tommy works for the Mob, since they own Vegas, or did during the hey-day of the Rat Pack. He is low level, just catching those who try to cheat the casinos out of money, but he has a pretty good read on his boss. Tommy is almost too savvy about women to sound like a real man from that era of Vegas. Which is one of a few notes that feel just a bit off in this story for me.
All of the women in this story are out of tune with the times. While they read well now, they throw a wrench into the realism the author is trying to build. But then again, more often than not, the "dames" in your dime store detective pieces are a whole lot tougher than they look.
The dialogue could use a bit of work, feeling rather stilted in spots. The story begins in fits and starts - to get to the meat of the story the narrator zigs and zags a few times, so that the reader doesn't really know where they are heading. But once the story reaches a certain point it really starts moving and continues at a nice solid pace.
If the book had been longer I think it would have been a trial, but as it reads now the length is about just right. Once you get past the jittery beginning the story becomes pretty entertaining.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Sep. 26, 2012 :
I thoroughly enjoyed this story!
At only 79 pages it is not exactly a book, but it was well-written, the characters were rounded out, with some depth to them. The internal dialogue was rich and essential to the story, and never came off as exposition. The interactions between the characters were quite believable, not just predictable. The pacing was tight and well-constructed.
The plot was a little predictable but the execution of the details made the story enjoyable even so. I mean, you knew right at first that somehow he was going to rescue that mermaid, but you could hardly wait to see how it came about.
I also really enjoyed the attitude of the main chacter towards women. The author writes strong female characters and the protagonist is a man who really appreciates them. I enjoyed the fact that he really loved his wife and how he showed that, without ever really saying those words.
There were a couple of typos and in one case a "not" was missing which rendered the sentence quite confusing, but other than those instances, it was the kind of story that reads well enough for you to temporarily escape your real life and feel for a time as if you were in that other life. That is my definition of a truly well-written story.
(One caveat: I did not appreciate the use of the F-word, and for this reason will not refer the story to anyone else. In my opinion, a good story can convey all it needs to convey without resorting to offensive words like that. I realize that may attitude may not be the norm in our society, but I think good writing need not be offensive to be effective.)
(reviewed the day of purchase)