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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!

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Film Noir in Primary Colours

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Apr 9, 2013: This is something different, a sort of hybrid webfiction and webcomic. The meandering tales have a film noir quality, and are illustrated by cartoon figures made up of primary shapes and colours and the odd photo. (I’m not sure what program would be used to create this, but it’s not one of the most advanced graphic design software!)

I must admit neither the stories nor the illustrations are particularly to my tastes, but written and recommended respectively by such webfiction greats as Dan Leo and Kathleen Maher, it’s worth taking a look at if you feel at all curious. Someone out there is going to find it immensely quirky and wonderful, and write a review to tell me I’m all wrong.

At the time of this review, "St. Crispian" is regularly updating and has been active since 2011.

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Interrupting the Drop

By Linda Schoales, editor

Nov 5, 2009: “Dead Drop” is the story of Trey, a 20-year old drifter in LA, who finds something stashed in the park that he thinks is going to be his ticket to a better life. He’s come in on the middle of a “drop” and figures he can squeeze somebody for some cash. Unfortunately, he already has people after him and this little package just adds to his troubles.

The story is told in first person by Trey and it’s mostly a monologue of what’s in his head. It’s like a journal or a letter addressed to an unknown person. There are short snatches of dialog and brief action sequences but it’s mostly about what Trey is thinking. He even refers to himself by name sometimes.

Trey is an interesting character. He’s both articulate and rough. There’s a lot of coarse language and violent thoughts but the writing is solid and smoother than you might expect. Trey comes up with some surprising bits of knowledge and spends a lot of time analysing other people, their motives and their lives. He has big dreams but no real plans as to how to bring them about. He “talks” like he’s a tough guy with a short fuse and dangerous past, but he seems to be using a lot of self-talk to build himself up. There’s a lot of repetition of certain themes, such as his father having served in Vietnam, and his own skill in survival. He seems to feel contempt for most of the people he meets unless he decides they’re tough, like him. The other characters don’t even have names, just titles that Trey gives them, like the Nerd, Tokyo and Rodeo.

I have to admit I could only stand to be in Trey’s head for a chapter or two at a time. His bragging and swearing got to me after that. In fact I stopped reading after 8 chapters. That may also be because I don’t like reading white text on a black background. If you like character driven stories told in first person, you may find “Dead Drop” interesting. The character was certainly vivid if not particularly pleasant company.

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