If you think those last three words refer to yomping through remote glens in search of lochans unfished since Robert the Bruce was a lad, you will be sadly disappointed. Oh, there’s fishing in there somewhere, all right, but it tends to take the form of an occasional interlude between the principal hunter/prey theme of the fortnight’s vacation, as bawdy romance blossoms among the, er, sextet.
These are people briefly off the leash and their adventures don’t end at the bedroom door but include scrapes with the law, fraudsters posing as a film crew and, in the case of one of the men, ducking and diving to avoid the ghosts of “adult adventures” of holidays gone by, which threaten to come back and haunt him.
Damn that Jeff Prest, you’re probably thinking by now – gets to read raunchy books in working hours with complete impunity. Well you can rein in your resentment, for this is undoubtedly the worst fishing book, in any context, that I have ever reviewed for this magazine.
Sex is fair game for comedy, like any other aspect of life, but contrary to what some stand-up comedians seem to think, it doesn’t grant you a free pass. It is subject to the same rules as anything else if the humorist is to make it work – his storyline has to have an interesting slant on the subject and it must be engagingly delivered.
Dave Rees tees up some scenarios with potential in this book but nearly all of them fall flat; sometimes because of implausibility (there’s a bank details scam that might have been believable 20 years ago but not now) but more often than not because of the lifeblood of any novel – its dialogue.
Well-written but the dialogue is corny, my English teacher wrote on one of my compositions many years ago, putting me off writing fiction for life in the process, and I’m afraid Dave Rees is in the same jam with a rimfire scope. lol.
All the salaciousness in the world won’t save your plot when your characters frequently converse in ways that no real person would ever employ – fitting whole monologues into what are meant to be a few snatched seconds of conversation and speaking in a stilted patois that blends modern English with the idiom of the 1960s.
That there is just one good punchline is because too many of the others are over-egged by an author apparently terrified that we miss them and while the book is never pornographic, much of its dated innuendo is so crass, I could see it being banned on certain building sites for lack of taste.
Two things in the author’s defence: I concede that I remained sufficiently curious as to the outcome to read to the last page and - as I write - the book has elicited three five- or four-star reviews on Amazon, although I can only assume that the lady describing it as “a bit technical in places” was writing from a convent.
If you want a flavour of how cringeworthy ‘blokeishness’ was in the Seventies, or you revel in things that are so bad as to be almost brilliant, go ahead and buy it.
Fishing and Fancy Free – fishing in the fast lane £4.90 (print) £1.99 (digital) Dave Rees; Softback (167 pages) and Kindle version available. Available from amazon.co.uk
Review by Matthew Schade from Hunting-Tips.Net.