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Surf City Acid Drop by Craig Terlson

Neonoir fiction soaked in Mexican Beer 

In between happy hours at the El Rayo Verde, Luke Fischer is hired to find people. But when he finds a dead junkie in his hotel room, he knows his lazy days of Mexican beer and Cholula soaked peanuts are about to end.

Note: Surf City Acid Drop contains some harsh language.


A complete novel

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Listed: Aug 31, 2015

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Come For the Wonderfully Bizarre Title; Stay for Like A Hundred Descriptions of Beer-Drinking

By Billy Higgins Peery, author of A Bad Idea

Sep 4, 2015: Surf City Acid Drop leans on the breezy coastal atmosphere and standard crime tropes pretty hard, but honestly? That’s half the fun.

This is a tale of coastal crime, pure and simple. Terlson keeps everything light because it’s supposed to be light. There’s a flurry of details which allow you to really see Mexico the way that Luke is seeing it. The emphasis isn’t on the action—though there are some fun fight scenes—nor is it on the characters, who are a little on the thin side.

The emphasis is on the atmosphere. As the cliche goes, Mexico’s a character in and of itself here, and boy is it beautifully portrayed. One of my favorite bits is in the very first chapter, when Luke describes the bar he’s sitting in, El Rayo Verde, where all sorts of tequila bottles are lined up, catching the Mexican sun. The character doesn’t stay in Mexico for the duration of the serial, but it’s fun while it lasts. And even the other parts of the world are well-described by Terlson.

Sometimes the attempt at surf noir prose get a little purple, one of the many examples being when Luke says, “Any moment, I expected the girl from Ipanema to stroll right up and buy me a shot.” In and of itself it’s not a bad line, but they tend to add up pretty quickly.

Still, for all the purple prose, some of the lines really do sing. One bit that comes to mind involves Luke mixing up the sound of a wailing trumpet with the sound of a police siren. It’s a perfect noir detail—one which I can imagine getting filmed in black-and-white (or perhaps in that hazy 70s style, since this is really a neo-noir).

So: if you’re looking for surf noir, I’d recommend this. If you want to feel like you’re a white guy drinking beers in Mexico, I’d recommend this.

But honestly? It’s a beach read. Don’t expect grand revelations, or deep characters. Just expect to read a lot about a guy drinking at bars and punching people. (Also a bit of macho posturing, due to the guys continually punching each other. YMMV.)

It’s fun, it zips by, and that’s all it needs to do.

NOTE: Though the serial currently has 23 chapters up, I’m only on 14. I’m going to keep reading this, but wanted to get this review up while the serial was still ongoing. It was apparently written as a novel, not a serial, so if you want to read along while it’s posted, you better come fast!

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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