Danny Teakwell does just that and is living the dream, or so it appears. In hope of seeing a long lost sweetheart, he reluctantly attends a high school reunion. At the reunion he’s confronted by a ‘cheerful psychopath’, who exhumes Danny’s secret past.
Danny is your classic antihero. On the public side he’s a laid back surfer, greenback sharer, all-round do gooder. On the inside he’s tortured, mysterious and sinful. But you just can’t help liking the guy.
All of the characters are immediately engaging, many are likeable, but you wouldn’t want to be any of them. They include:
• Danny – aforementioned surf bum
• Grady – jaded lovable bar owner
• Fink – pill popping morally conflicted lawyer
• Sari Hunter – poetically OCD love interest
• Albert Thumpet – psychotic murdering nemesis
Psycho Tropics cuts straight to the chase. Someone dies in the first sentence! There’s a particularly nasty murder on page 39, and you learn all about Danny’s dark secret by the end of Chapter 6. The next 46 chapters are a white knuckle, eyes shut, roller coaster ride.
Psycho Tropics is like riding Pipeline with a hangover. It’s jaw dropping, heart thumping and addictively exhilarating, but with a hint of disorientation, dizziness and an unsettled stomach.
But by the end you’ll be smiling ear to ear and bursting to tell your mates how good it was.
My humble opinion
Psycho Tropics is more thriller than surf fiction. You can’t stop reading, you need to know what happens next, no matter what the consequence.
But there is a strong surf theme all surfers will recognise. Danny’s saltwater addiction, the surfside social scene, the whole coastal environment all combine to give a constant surf vibe.
Here’s one of my favourite excerpts: “He didn’t usually catch much, but that wasn’t the point, just like catching the perfect wave wasn’t the point of surfing… The shore is church, the activities just diversions”.
It reminded me a lot of Don Winslow’s ‘The Dawn Patrol’. If you enjoyed The Dawn Patrol, then stop reading, open a new tab and order a copy of Psycho Tropics from Amazon.
The authorThe author Dorian Box (pen name) is an award winning graduate professor and nonfiction writer. So when it came to writing fiction, Box chose to create a story based on experience.
Like Danny, Box is a surfer, diver and guitarist in a rock band. The setting, Hollywood (Florida, not L.A), is a real place where both Danny and Box spent their formative years.
So you really get a true flavour of the landscapes and locations, although the characters and bar names are fictional.
Q&A with Dorian Box
I was lucky enough to ask the mysterious Dorian Box a few questions. Here’s what Dorian had to say:
• You’re an award winning graduate professor and non-fiction writer, why write surf fiction?
I didn’t set out to write surf fiction, but they always say write what you know, and having grown up on the beach and doing all things beach-related, the protagonist surfer just kind of sprung to life from the beginning.
• Do you still surf much?
No, I’m land-locked now. Surfing was something I did mainly as a kid.
• Who’s your favourite character and why? Or is that like asking you to choose your favourite kid?
Ha, the latter, for sure. It’s so funny because everyone who reads Psycho-Tropics seems to have a different favorite character. I’ve heard Danny, Sari, Fink, the psychopath, even the seven-year-old embalming expert named as favorite characters. I suppose I identify the most with Danny, the protagonist, even though he’s really nothing like me.
• Is this a one off project? Or is there another Dorian Box creation on its way?
Definitely not a one-off. I’ve completed, of all things, a middle-grade mystery that I’m currently shopping around. It’s another underdog tale, but, of course, much more mild than Psycho-Tropics. I’ve also thought about a follow-up to Psycho-Tropics where Kempler, the psychopath, would be the main character.
For more information about the book and author, interviews with the characters, free chapters and some self publishing wisdom visit the Dorian Box website.
Finally a word of thanks to Dorian Box and Amy Holland for all their kind assistance.