Lobster Wars by Mark Greene
What’s it About?
“Up and down the Maine coast, there’s a tough breed of men who make their living from the sea. They battle the wind and the weather and the tides, and sometimes, each other … Welcome to Tranquility. Welcome to Lobster Wars.”
Words spoken by the voiceover at the beginning of an episode of a reality TV show which is at the core of author Mark E. Greene’s clever satirical look not only at the absurdity of the reality TV business but the foibles of our society in general.
In Greene’s book of the same name as the fictional series he has created, Lobster Wars (Koehler Books), when the reality TV show comes to the small fishing village of Tranquility, Maine, everybody jockeys for an advantage — be it fame, fortune, love or lobsters.
The storylines are aplenty and the characters, from the blue-collar locals to the rich and powerful, are diverse, vulnerable, animated and entertaining.
The show, and the book, finds its leading man in Connor Nichols, not exactly rolling in dough, but an outsider from a wealthy family who wants to make a career on the waters as a lobsterman. “His plan was simple. Buy a boat. Buy traps. Set traps. Catch lobster. Sell lobster. Pay off debts. Have a life.”
The hardened lobster lifers, however, are not welcoming of anyone outside their “fraternity” and act accordingly, sabotaging Connor’s every effort. “These inbred jerkwads in Tranquility had an industrial-strength hard-on for anyone without ten generations of headstones in the local cemetery.” First among them is Wade Baxter, who will do everything from put rocks in Connor’s lobster traps to damage his boat to ruin his truck.
Hard as it might be to imagine, Wade is not the baddest bad guy. That honor falls on Evan Platt, an ex-con and former partner in crime with Wade who returns to Tranquility to get in on the action. He is also the nephew of Phil Platt, the town’s first selectman and owner of the local deli.
When a “high-cholesterol” national food chain needs to change its public image, chairman Tyler Lane comes to town in hopes of signing a “spokesman” for a new chain of healthy seafood restaurants. Connor is the initial target, and a $50,000 advance check dangles in the wind. If only life was so simple.
The interactions — and affiliations — between characters are fun to follow, as everyone has their agendas. Throw in a couple of love interests, including the attractive, Bohemian, former yoga-instructor-turned-kayaker Crystal, who tries to steer Connor straight in his diet and his actions, and, well, there’s a lot going on here.
While I want to say the characters are quirky, they really aren’t. Lovable? Not exactly. Well-defined and intriguing? There you go. They all represent their own slice of society that becomes fun, comical and amusing when their worlds collide. And with the backdrop of a reality TV show about, of all things, lobster fishermen, the entire story, in its lampooning mockery, becomes strangely relatable and more real than it probably should.
The characters often are caught reflecting in a hungover state or while nursing serious wounds from one altercation after another. In this case Connor: “Lobster fishing. The TV show. Phil and his agenda. Green-eyed Crystal decorating the Nu B [Connor’s boat] with prayer flags. Wade and his bartender friend [in this case, Evan]. And finally, the Captain Connor Lobster Shacks — possibly the best or worst idea in the world.”
“Too many tangents. Too many loose ends.”
Perhaps for the characters — but not for readers. For a fast-moving plot, for brisk, intelligent and tight writing, and for a brush with many faces of society, Lobster Wars is sure to please. And the next time you find yourself frowning while contemplating your choice of a reality TV show to watch, either by addiction or by default, Lobster Wars should be a cautious warning of what producers just might think up next.
Mark E. Greene is an award-winning author with an offbeat sense of humor and a sharp eye for the absurd. A speeding lobster boat plowing through a flotilla of helpless sea kayakers sparked his interest in the rough-and-tumble world of Maine lobstermen and became the driving concept for Lobster Wars. His first novel, Cutthroat, grew out of a sense of impending doom when he was convinced that a Montana fishing guide was going to kill him. Mark has also written travel articles and equipment reviews for Outdoor Sports Magazine. When Mark is not writing, he and his family are pursuing all manner of self-propelled outdoor sports, providing content for his podcast: “Mark in the Wild.” Visit www.markegreeneauthor.com.
Publish Date: January 17, 2023
Author: Mark Greene
Page Count: 316 pages
Publisher: Koehler Books