Peter Benchley,
White Shark
(St. Martin's Press, 1995)

Peter Benchley's White Shark is perhaps one the best written dead-ends in history. Although packed with ideas, some adventure and many, many 10-mile-wide close calls, by the end of the book you are literally left wondering what is it you just read.

Its pacing and narrative are written like the tides breaking on the shore ... it rolls in, it drags out, repeat until end of novel. Every so often the waves bring up something that sparkles, but it never truly shines through. The creature here is a crackerjack idea (although a lift from the film Shock Waves), but Benchley spends little or no time with it. And the major players in the book are made from the thickest carboard there is -- they hold no surprises, and are so routine that Benchley never breaks a sweat when writing them, because we already know them and know what will happen to them. The hero and herione will get together at the end (they do), the sidekick will pull through (he does), the son will find his first love (he does, a deaf girl with telepathic powers which Benchley mentions once, and then drops, almost like she was going to play a larger part in the story, but Benchley found it too time consuming to continue with) and the monster will die (it does, pretty quickly and easily).

Not his best work. For fans, it's worth the read. For those just picking up Benchley, start and stop with Jaws.

- Rambles
written by T.E. (Bob) O'Sullivan
published 16 July 2005

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