Book Review – “Tortured Shrimp” by Dave Feder

“You must have me confused with somebody who likes to eat fried clams,” said Jake. “I’m the guy who likes fried shrimps, remember?”

Tortured Shrimp by Dave Feder is a story of boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love and through amusing occurrences, mishaps and misunderstanding search for their happily ever after, a genre commonly known as a romantic comedy. In Dave Feder’s case, the used term is a sexy romantic comedy.

Book cover Tortured Shrimp by Dave Feder

First, two strangers, Jake and Charlie, meet at the seafood stall and strike a conversation about fried shrimps. Fascinated and amused by Jake’s strange attitude towards life, Charlie invites him to join a dinner with his ex-wife, a situation readily avoided by most regular mortals. An invitation partly motivated by a self-deference and partly by Charlie’s sincere wish to bully his ex will start a chain of events that will bring together a group of different people.

I was nicely surprised by the quality of the absurd humour that started the book. The author introduced the character of Jack who is colourful, his speech distinct and situation comic witty. Jack’s extrovert nature,  stubborn and consistent ignoring of social conventions made me wonder if he does it on purpose. The brilliant absurdity of the dialogue is captivating and really drew me into the story during the first chapters.

“Okay, Jake. That’s interesting. It’s even a tiny bit relevant to the conversation. But mostly, it’s not relevant at all.”

Charlie in Tortured Shrimp

With a bar set high, I went into the story that from a promising satire got watered down to a romantic farce. One doesn’t expect deep thoughts and philosophical discussions from a light-hearted romantic comedy. In that sense, the book is true to its genre. The plot does not strain the imagination and is easy reading with some giggles. However, after a great start, I felt let down and the rest of the book didn’t fully live up to the initial tone.

The author character building seems too simplified. The story could greatly improve by fleshing out peoples background and motivations as well as giving them different voices. In a story with only six people, there is not much room to call anybody a side character. Jacks brother was given as an outline and even Charlie was somewhat vague. Charlie and his ex-wives dialogue that otherwise would be pretty generic evil-ex and bitter husband interaction, however, is livened by the comic interlude provided by inappropriate remarks from Jack.

While women in the story have a different appearance (unfortunately mainly distinguished by hair-colour and a boob size) they all talked exactly the same way. The only exception is the female lead who had a distinct giggle that set her aside a little bit. Unfortunately, about two thirds in the book I could have sworn that none of the female characters had SAID anything. They talked a great deal but seem to be either screaming or occasionally giggling or shrieking. While the good old “he said she said” can easily be overdone it’s still preferable to having a whole gender only yelling or doing intensive hysterical noises through the story.

Tortured Shrimp is a mix between an absurd comedy and a romantic farce.  It would probably help to reach to suitable target group if the author would stick to either one or another genre. As it is, the story might end up disappointing people who like a farce but the first chapters may make readers looking for a romantic comedy think they have mistaken a genre.

When keeping in mind the change of the style in the book (to avoid disappointment), the Tortured Shrimp (<- big scary affiliate link) should be a good read for a person looking for light entertainment with a modern storyline and not too many explicit sex scenes. While the sex has it’s part to play, it is mostly implied or brushed over the description by mentioning that they took place. It would probably not be a right fit for a people looking for a book resembling Fifty Shades series.

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The author approached me for a book introduction and I was provided reviewers copy of  Tortured Shrimp. I am proud to be an honest and transparent blogger and book reviewer. All opinion are my own. 

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