Sawfish: Marine biologist Dr. Mason Rayman is experimenting with gigantism in sea creatures when he accidentally creates a monstrously large sawfish. When it grows so big he can no longer keep it in his Miami lab, he is preparing to have it destroyed when he learns he is being terminated from his position. By way of revenge, he dumps the oversized shark relative into the ocean, where it soon roams out of control, slaughtering bathers at nearby trendy South Beach.
Dr. Rayman doesn’t let on that it’s his fish responsible for the killings, but someone knows what he did, and she’s blackmailing him. He plays along for a while but then decides she needs eliminated. Breaking into a lab at his former workplace, he deliberately creates more monster sawfish and releases them into the local waters.
Rayman then attempts to get his job back by stepping forward as the expert on how to stop the scourge of gigantic predators now ravaging swimmers and water sports enthusiasts on South Florida beaches. But his blackmailer will not let up, leading to an ultimate confrontation between woman and beast, and finally, woman and man. – Goodreads
I knew there was a chance that I would be disappointed when I decided to purchase Sawfish, given what I’ve read from the author in the past. However, I really like his ideas, and this sounded like the perfect sort of relaxing monster novel to listen to. It’s been a while since I had one of those, so I decided to give Mr. Chesler another chance.
I wish I hadn’t.
Sawfish has a great concept. It sets up perfectly to be this rip-roaring, monster-of-the-deep sort of novel. It had the potential to be so-bad-it’s-good. Instead it was just bad. The sawfish was cool, don’t get me wrong. The problem is that the author spends way too much time on the two main characters. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, except in this case both of the main characters are unlikable idiots!
For fans of The Walking Dead, Raymond is an evil Eugene. At least that’s how I pictured him in my head. It didn’t help that the narrator had that sort of nasal tone which built the ticked-off nerd image in your head. (The narrator was a perfect choice for this book, actually. I think it made it feel a bit more believable being told in that particular tone.) He wants revenge and then he wants to get back the attention he feels he rightly deserves. He’s a toe rag.
But I will give Rick Chesler this: Even though Raymond is a douche, I still found myself rooting for him in Sawfish. When he’s going up against the sawfish, I was hoping he’d win. He’s not a likable character by any means, but you do find yourself cheering for him occasionally.
Elise is worse than Raymond is, and that’s saying something. It’s been a while since I disliked a female character as intensely as I disliked her. At least he had intelligence going for him, even if his personality and ego often overruled it. (Mild Spoilers. Highlight to show text.))She knows there’s killer sawfish in the water – monstrous ones – and yet she takes her son out on a boat? What kind of parent does that? And then her first instinct after a bad event happens is to try to blackmail Raymond even more? There’s a certain point at which any sane person goes to the police and tells them what they know to try to stop things from happening! (Spoilers end.) I spent too much of the book actively hoping something gruesome happened to her.
My favorite chapters were the sawfish attacks. The characters in them were often throwaway, but I didn’t care. Those were the sections of the novel that I wanted to read more of. Anything so that I wouldn’t have to listen to Raymond whine, boast, and plan.
Most of the ending of Sawfish was pretty good. The location and how things got rigged up was unique. The author did a great job of painting the scene in my mind. But the last few pages ruined it for me. My opinion already wasn’t high on the book, and then we have something completely unbelievable happen from one of the characters. The twist wasn’t believable. Not even a little bit.
Overall, Sawfish was a great concept and wvoiced by a good narrator. I just didn’t care for the actual execution or the characters. Can’t recommend it.