Mike Scott isn’t your typical international photojournalist. Or maybe he is. To be fair, I know exactly zero international photojournalists. But his adventures don’t seem like the kind of thing the typical photographer would be going through regularly. In the case of Land Sharks, he’s run afoul of another group that doesn’t seem like it could be real, although I know for a fact they are: fishermen who catch sharks, cut off all their fins, and drop them back in the ocean still alive to be slaughtered by their fellow sharks. It’s an unspeakably evil practice that is all too common despite the fact that it’s illegal almost everywhere.
This book is interesting in several ways. First, it’s part of a growing trend of e-book-only novellas that are available on places like Amazon. It used to be that stories of this length would only be accessible as part of an anthology, but now they’re available, often for as little as .99 (or in some cases even free), online all by themselves. Second, it’s by a West Virginia author. Eric Douglas is from Charleston. By way of full disclosure, I know Eric. He interviewed me for a web radio show and we cross paths relatively regularly at author events. He’s a genuinely nice man and he helped me with some sage advice when I was just starting out publishing my books.
That having been said, the third reason this book is interesting is that it’s just plain fun. Unlike a novel, a novella jumps right into the story. No tons of explication, no long scenes of contemplative characters reflecting on the meaning of life. It’s mostly just action. Mike Scott, the protagonist, accidentally takes pictures of several finned sharks being eaten alive while he’s taking photos, ironically enough, for a story about how sharks are making a comeback in The Bahamas because of laws protecting them. And he immediately does something about it. When the authorities take umbrage at his accusation, basically saying that people don’t do that kind of thing because it’s illegal, he takes the situation into his own hands, immediately trying to question local fishermen to see if any of them know what’s going on. Not all that surprisingly, the locals aren’t really forthcoming. Some even less than others. Also not surprisingly, his asking questions gets the attention of whoever is committing the crimes, and that’s when the fun begins. I won’t tell you what happens, but you probably won’t be shocked when I tell you the good guys win.
As I said, one of the reasons this book is interesting is because it’s a novella. I read it in under an hour. But if I’m being honest here, and that’s my job after all, it’s also one of the drawbacks. I’m sure that since this is part of a series, we would get a better flavor for the character of Mike Scott by reading the whole run of books, but the other characters are one-offs. As a result, by necessity, they have to be relatively one-dimensional. There’s just not enough time to create a fully realized character in that space. So the good guys are basically noble people and the bad guys are prototypical evil villains.
But that’s okay. Just like with my books, you don’t read this expecting Tolstoy. You go in expecting a quick jolt of adrenaline and some fun one-liners. And that’s exactly what you get. So I recommend you pick this book up, electronically speaking, and give it a read. But you probably shouldn’t do it at the beach.