Republicans from East Tucson with poor restaurant etiquette are sure to be offended by Zack Matheson’s self-published “Island of the Lost Souls.” On the other hand, if chain restaurants disgust you and the poignant scent of mayonnaise causes your nose to crinkle, Matheson’s novel will keep you giggling.
Matheson’s goal was not to offend.
“It was meant to be entertaining. … When I first set about writing it, I wanted to write a book that I myself would read,” Matheson said.
“Island of the Lost Souls” succeeds in creating an accurate and humorous representation of people under the guise of a wacky crime caper novel set in the city of Tucson.
It is hard to tell where the story is going from the first few chapters, but the humor encourages the reader to delve into the layers of the intriguing plot.
Written as a snarky self-narrative, the character Daniel Quinn tells his adventures, beginning in the restaurant he works at. Dan waits on “the wrinkly decaf crew” and mayonnaise-loving, tuna tartare-hating women. Soon enough, Daniel reveals that he previously attacked a customer with a cucumber for comparing his food to Outback Steakhouse’s. This resulted in Dan returning to being a waiter.
Daniel’s life dramatically changes after the death of his grandfather, a man with great power in the city. It is soon believed that Daniel holds a map that will lead to treasure buried within the Arizona desert. After obtaining his grandfather’s diary, Daniel discovers GPS coordinates leading to different locations on a piece of land under development. He bumps into different men and roadblocks throughout the novel, leading to a roller-coaster plot line.
To create dynamic characters in the novel, Matheson drew upon the characteristics and experiences of people he knew in real life. Other characters appear to represent stereotypes.
Daniel and his friends portray the hipster artist crowd seen on Fourth Avenue. Matheson acknowledges that Tucson is a mixing pot by creating the character Lester Romley, the local scam artist.
“Lester represents the underbelly of Tucson that doesn’t get talked about too often,” Matheson said.
Matheson uses his knowledge of Tucson to incorporate the city into Daniel’s adventures. There are references to the University of Arizona Police Department and the continuous state of construction along Tucson roads.
“I wanted people who know Tucson to say, ‘Oh, yeah! I know that place,’ and people who live outside of Tucson to say, ‘Oh, that sounds cool!’” Matheson said.
It is obvious that Matheson is a self-published author due to a lack of editing in the novel. At times, it appears wordy because of the self-narrative approach. Also, much of the writing is abrasive and may shock readers. For example, at one point, Daniel remarks that the city of Tucson is “the city where U.S. congresswomen get shot in grocery stores.”
However, the slight imperfections do not distract from the overall story due to the humorous and outrageous atmosphere Matheson sets. As of now, “Island of the Lost Souls” can be found on barnesandnoble.com, Amazon and in Antigone Books on Fourth Avenue.