What’s your favorite act in a three-act play? The set-up? The conflict? The resolution? If you’re a fan of big Hollywood blockbusters, you probably enjoy the endgame’s explosive resolution—the moments when Godzilla crushes King Ghidorah and Captain America thwarts the Red Skull.
For readers who enjoy the final act the best (you know who you are), I suggest picking up a copy of Primal Riptide. AuthorJulian Michael Carver dispenses with the first and second acts and goes straight to the climax. His latest novelette is all endgame and nothing but endgame.
The story picks up immediately after the U.S. Coast Guard destroys a drug cartel’s headquarters on an abandoned oil rig in the Pacific Ocean. Readers miss “the most explosive Naval confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis” and join a shootout in progress between Coast Guardsmen and the last four surviving members of the Salerno Cartel, including drug queen Nikki Salerno, Xavier, the tattooed enforcer, mercenary Cassidy Davis and Leon Saville, a Navy turncoat.
Tensions are running high among the cartel castaways. After all, their entire base of operations has been destroyed and they’re trying to outrun a fleet of Navy point-class cutters. Bickering escalates quickly and the fugitives are having a hard time keeping their shit together.
But what they don’t know (yet) is that the real danger lurks below the water’s surface. All the action on top of the ocean has attracted the attention of something big—something like “an overgrown great white shark or a big orca.”
The cartel and the Coast Guard quickly discover that they’re both being pursued by a sea creature that shouldn’t even be alive, namely a 66-foot-long megalodon. When Cassidy first sees the prehistoric shark coming her way, she knows that she and her comrades are doomed: “It’s a killing machine, the largest ocean predator ever known to scientists. We don’t stand a chance!”
Up close, the meg resembled “a large bloated great white shark,” writes Carver. “Its belly hung down as if it had just feasted on an entire blue whale and it’s icy eyes pierced the watery refraction like two great snow-globes. From its mouth jutted an array of razor-sharp teeth that reminded [Cassidy] of a hungry underwater tyrannosaur.”
In conclusion, I’d say the non-stop action of Primal Riptide is fleetingly enjoyable, but unsatisfactory as a standalone piece of fiction. The author wanted to write a book that could be read in one sitting. Mission accomplished. But there’s a reason stories are written in three-act arcs. It’s the building blocks of all good linear narrative.
[Creature Features #1: Primal Riptide / By Julian Michael Carver / First Printing: March 2022 / ISBN: 9781922551368]