A Trout in the Sea of Cortez is a fast-paced story - fast enough that I read it in just two sittings. With many memorable characters and smooth prose (smooth except for some foul language), it is an entertaining novel for adults who like the unusual and enjoy a quirky, sarcastic, smart-mouthed, funny story. The author uses humor to describe the utter chaos in the protagonistís mid-life crisis as he travels from the cold desolation of his life in North Dakota to the hot sands of Mexico, where it is hot in more ways than sunshine. This book is about love, adultery, hazardous waste, revenge, and murder in an obsessive-compulsive life seeking a balance.
Dennis Pratt does not even want to go to Mexico. Nearing forty, in a dead-end job and a wilted marriage, he cannot connect with his college-aged daughter on any level or find anything interesting to liven up his existence. He cannot get excited about that exotic country south of the border, even though his wife has made big plans for vacationing on their 20th anniversary in Mexico with friends who like to golf, swim, and fish for marlin.
While learning to play golf and swim for this reluctant vacation, Dennis becomes convinced that his wife must be having an affair with their dentist, whom he used to know in college. In short order, a variety of obsessive thoughts take over Prattís life. His wife, Patricia, lost weight and played tennis with the dentist, Bruce. Bruce and he were rivals for an older womanís affection in school, and Dennis won. Perhaps now the dentist is giving payback by stealing his wife. Of course, mixing his obsessive-compulsive disorderís required medication with alcohol does not at all help Dennis interpret the situation. He lives in a bizarre reality of his own making, flopping around mentally like a fish in the bottom of a boat.
Before Mexico, Dennis begins to associate regularly with a vagabond father and daughter living in a camper near the golf course where he plays. This is all much to the chagrin of the clubís security man, who very much resembles the Southern sheriff from the old Smokey and the Bandit movies. Dennis also meets a mysterious artist near the club and considers falling in love with her. His life is total bumbling chaos as he meets these new friends and considers what his wife and daughter may be up to, but he keeps trying to learn golf. On the road to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez, his mind clears and the mysterious pieces of his psyche and surrounding events start to come together, resulting in more mystery - and murder.
Salter's characters are genuine throughout the novel, and the ending is a pleasant surprise. It is a good book for adults who are not offended by the foul language that peppers the storyline.