Drug-fueled dysfunction is the order of the day in this first novel from Les Claypool. South of the Pump House follows two brothers and their childhood friend out onto the calm waters of the California bay for an afternoon of sturgeon fishing and reminiscing. Ed and Earl, brothers trying to reestablish a friendship after the death of their father, head out on a fishing trip. Along for the ride is Earl’s buddy Don, a foul-mouthed and dirty-minded El Sobrante local that Ed had narrowly avoided becoming by moving to Berkley which offered a more enriching and open minded environment.
Ed arrives to find his brother spun on meth and decides to enhance the fishing adventure for himself by swallowing a few mushrooms. As the day wears on, the mix of intoxicants, testosterone and unfinished childhood rivalries creates a violent and volatile setting where tempers fume and tantrums ensue.
There is a serious lack of character development that leaves the reader feeling a bit lost, but the story rises to a chilling climax both unexpected and satisfying. Although I was expecting and hoping for more out of Claypool, this is an easy read that I would pass on to friends.