Like Scott Smith’s THE RUINS, David Angsten’s DARK GOLD knows that being a young, white American unwelcome in a foreign country is far scarier than any haunted house. For fresh college grad Jack Duran, that happens to be Mexico, where he and two buddies have gone in search of his mysteriously missing, ne’er-do-well adventurer of a brother. Instead, they find trouble – on land, by sea and many feet below.
A pair of hot topless women leads – lures? – the trio to board the luxurious yacht of Leopold Bellocheque, an amiable enough rich black guy who’s perusing the ocean waters for fabled sunken treasure, which Jack’s brother may have hit upon before his vanishing act. Bellocheque knows a little something of the sibling’s disappearance, so he engages Jack and his pals in a little you-scratch-my-back-etc. fair play – namely, help me find the gold and I’ll help you find your brother. Oh, and watch out for that horned “white devil” that supposedly haunts these waters and kills people.
DARK GOLD is many things all rolled into one: a tale of high adventure, a brush with horror, and a white-knuckle thriller tinged with supernatural mystery. Despite the disparity among these genres, the damn thing actually gels, especially for a first novel. This is not a JAWS clone, however much the cover tries to sell it as one … not to mention spoil it, since the identity of the underwater creature is kept under wraps for quite a while, even planting a nice red herring. But it is the pop-savvy pool read that JAWS was, albeit with better sex.
And I do mean better! After a long tease between Jack and one of the aforementioned naked babes, the chapter titled “Consummation” delivers the goods and then some with a multi-page romp that’s one of the hottest things I’ve ever read – graphic without being too overtly pornographic.
So the main question is: How come I didn’t know about this when it was in hardcover? For escapist, jumbled-recipe fare in this sweltering season, it’s tough to beat. (Okay, so Angsten could’ve picked way better sidekick names than “Duff” and “The Rock,” but still.) DARK GOLD marks an awfully polished debut, making Angsten an instant author to watch. –Rod Lott
She pressed a bulging breast in my mouth. I tasted it, just barely, and she pulled it out and gave me the other. I sucked on that one, too, hungrily, until she abruptly wrenched it away. She gave me the first one again, now cool and wet, and I took her nipple between my teeth and tickled its nubby end with my tongue. She tugged it from my teeth, then plunged the other back into my mouth, pulling it out again without giving me enough before putting the other back in. It went on like this, one breast and then the other, back and forth in the darkness until the nipples grew fat and hard and numb from all the kissing and the biting and the sucking they took.