Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Dogs of Winter by Kem Nunn

Surfers seek the mystical and dangerous “Heart Attacks”

One morning, Jack Fletcher, the Doc, one-time hot surf photographer whose life is now a mess, gets a phone call.  A top surf magazine wants him for a job.  Only problem is that the job is to transport two spoiled surfers 600 miles in a broken down van  to the home of the fabled Drew Harmon, in order to photograph the three at the faraway dangerous Heart Attacks surf spot.  The men drive all night to the beautiful cloudy border between California and Oregon, much of which lies on an Indian reservation. Reclusive Drew isn’t very friendly, putting them up in his workshop, far from his beautiful wife in the house.  When a tragic accident sets them all on the run, to be tracked by Indian official Travis McCade, Jack has to forget about the perfect shot and concentrate on saving his life.

 Kem Nunn's earlier surf novel, Tapping the Source, was much more streamlined and a little easier to wade through.  Although the setting for this book was also highly evocative and the descriptions of waves and the surfers exciting, the plot got overburdened by having not one glowering macho man with a secret in his past, but three – Jack Fletcher, Drew Harmon and Travis McCade.  In addition, they all were in love with Kendra – Drew’s beautiful damaged wife.  Kendra seems like a combination of Stevie Nicks and Gypsy Boots, although I loved it when everybody she cursed met a mysterious death (like two seconds later).  The surfers are chased through the misty woods by a band of murderous Indians who seem to have run right out of Tom Sawyer.  The worst thing was that the generally ponderous prose completely lacked humor.

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