It’s a Mystery: The Loch, by Steve Alten

The LochDon’t even go near the water 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Steve Alten takes on the legend of Nessie, blending fact with fiction in The Loch. Zach Wallace, a descendant of another legend, William Wallace of Braveheart fame, is a talented yet somewhat hapless marine biologist. His last project, locating the elusive giant squid in the depths of the Sargasso Sea, was both a success and a catastrophe, and now Zach’s afraid to go back in the water. When his estranged father, Angus, summons him to Inverness, where he is standing trial for murder, Zach reluctantly obeys. Imagine his chagrin when he learns that Angus’s defense hinges solely upon the Loch Ness monster. He’s more than ticked off, but what can a son do but find proof that his father is telling the truth? The scientist in Zach knows that, if there is a Nessie, it’s not going to be a plesiosaur, and now a couple of generations of hunters have proved that the monster will not be found using traps or radar. As he begins his quest, he also begins learning that truth can be stranger than fiction; from time to time, a vicious amphibious animal emerges from the loch to prey upon livestock, and, occasionally, upon humans.

If you enjoy stories (“story” being the operative word) that combine legend, history, science, adventure, and mystery, The Loch is for you. And, refreshingly, no religious cabals or heresies are involved here. But there are Knights Templar, there is a monster (i.e., a large amphibious predator), and Zach learns about the value of facing one’s fears head on. Intelligently written, and very entertaining.

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