Review: “Operation: Loch Ness,” William Meikle

Pros: Loving this series!
Rating: 5 out of 5

William Meikle’s “S-Squad” series is a fairly simple series of military-vs-monster short novels. If you like that genre, they are absolutely worth the read! Operation: Loch Ness (S-Squad Book 5) is exactly what the title indicates: a story of Captain John Banks and his Scottish lads going up against the Loch Ness monster. It all starts out with a “situation” at the Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire in Scotland. A great deal of damage was done and many animals were killed: a polar bear, a lynx, eight red deer, three bison, and six caribou. There are only a couple of tracks that can be found in the boggy landscape, and they’re huge. It puts the squad in mind of their trip to Russia a couple of books back. But the real similarities they’ll find are to their encounter with Nazi ice zombies: Aleister Crowley lurks at the bottom of this mystery, and that touch of Lovecraftian cosmic horror comes back to bite the squad on the ass. Literally. Soon there’s an attack on tourists, and the squad is scrambling to find the creature before it can do any more damage. They find a man named Alexander (Sandy) Seton who knows a couple of chants that might lead the creature right to them. Unfortunately for the squad, however, this time they’re not in the middle of nowhere, so they’re also dealing with a second terrible beast: the press!

“What the fuck is this now, the bloody Scottish X-Files?”

I think of this more as an R-rated depiction of a modern-day UNIT from Dr. Who, but I can see where it could also be viewed as the X-Files with lots more gunfire and swearing. Either way, it’s a terribly fun series in which we get to watch a military squad take on all the types of fun monsters you can imagine. So far, giant undersea isopods, Nazi ice zombies and UFOs, giant and aggressive re-discovered ancient animals, giant Amazon snake-shifters, and now Nessie. The fun pop culture references are courtesy of Wiggins, and are not overly frequent–it’s just enough to get the snort of laughter for a moment, and helps to ground this in the modern day.

Speaking of Wiggins, I do love the characters. They’re drawn with a few simple sentences here and there, but it’s enough to give them detail. From Banks, who’s gone back to smoking since the Amazon mission, to Wiggins, who feels it necessary to break the tension with jokes about Sergeant Hynd’s wife. Sandy is an interesting character. He plays a similar role to the Russian scientist in the first book, but has his own specialties and personality. He has a bit of a background in the occult, and is able to help the lads with finding their prey.

Despite the relative shortness and simplicity of these novels, they’re very good at answering the little questions I find myself writing down as I read. I eventually end up crossing them all out as answered.

The storytelling is excellent. It’s easy to get a visual sense of the story, and the firefights feel positively cinematic. All in all, a great bit of fun.

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