Monday, September 8, 2014
Review of Salty by Mark Haskell Smith (2007, Black Cat)
Salty is a darkly comic crime caper set in Phuket and Bangkok in Thailand that follows the travails of Turk Henry, a washed-up former rock star and recovering sex addict, as he tries to save his supermodel wife, an ex-drug addict whom he met in rehab, from a group of Thai pirates. The set-up is relatively straightforward, putting the interests of different parties -- Turk, Sheila, an American government representative, the pirates, Turk’s manager and assistant, MaryBeth -- into conflict or tension and riffing on the interplay and character development as each has a small epiphany that helps them come to see themselves for who they really are. For the latter to work, the characters have to be somewhat tarnished and a little unlikeable at the start and it takes some time to warm to some of them (and a few stay unlikeable). The narrative is also full of cliches and cultural and country stereotypes, which are barely worked against. As a result, I was never really firmly hooked into the story until near the end. What kept me reading was the workable setup and the story moving at a relatively quick clip. Overall, an enjoyable enough yarn that never quite kicked into a higher gear.