by Patrick Gabridge
Who wants to date the guy liked by all your friends and relatives? And would love still interest you if you had to beat off attractive supplicants? That sums up the premise of this interesting and touching story of lust and low-pressure systems set in the plains of Oklahoma. The central character Victoria picks through the storm-flattened barns and trailer parks of mid America, hoping to improve tornado predictions. Yet she’s never seen a funnel until some weird data leads her to a strange man, Ben Fulgar. He travels the land with his dog, Kimat, and seems to pull a life-sustaining energy from what the rest of us consider total disaster. He may be delusional, or he may be something supernatural, but he’s the seeming answer to Victoria’s stunted social life. Ben takes more maintenance than most guys, however, and when it’s clear he brings death and destruction to the people he loves, the relation takes a unique twist, leaving Victoria flattened.
Gabridge’s novel is engaging and touching, and this love story flows along at a pleasant pace, dispensing a few odds and ends about how tornadoes form, dissipate, and kill. Victoria is not a storm chaser, but her search for Ben brings her closer to death than is healthy. He’s not a bad man, but bad things seem to seek him out. Gabridge includes a few nice sex scenes, well written without becoming silly or gratuitous. It’s the storm damage that you might find disturbing — the stories feel real enough, and the details brutally describe the demise of perfectly nice people who just happen to have the bad luck to stand here, now, and not 100 yards north. If nothing else, you’ll have another reason to not move back home.
Tornado Siren is a fun read, suitable for the beach or the plane. The romance feels real, the storms feel oppressive, and while the ending isn’t exactly happy, it’s no sadder than any real ending you might find yourself living through. But if you’re headed to the Midwest, you might wait until the ride home to get this book. After all, your chance of being hit by a twister is about as likely as a winning lottery ticket. No point in worrying prematurely.
Behler Publications: behlerpublications.com