I have to admit that I am up for pretty much anything when it comes to Loch Ness and the Loch Ness monster.

It’s a fascination that began early and having spent so much time as a young person on those hallowed shores, generally around the area of Dores, I’ve never given up an interest in the mythical beast, although I can’t say I’ve ever been a believer, even when young.

I have to admit however to being impressed as to the impact the Loch Ness monster has had on Highland and Scottish tourism, and the entire cult of stuffed toys, books, photos and postcards have always amused me no end. Better still are the technical operations that are always underway on Loch Ness, generally undertaken by monster hunters, and then there are the stories I’ve heard from locals, from tourists and from passers-by, some of whom have claimed to me to have witnessed something very strange in the water. Hype is a marvellous thing.

None of this interest however fully prepared me for how disappointed I was going to be by Peter Tremayne’s The Curse of Loch Ness, which I have read twice, once on its publication in 1979 and later as an adult. Peter Tremayne has published a great range of horror books, and really favours the use of the exclamation mark in his titles, which include Zombie! (1981) The Return of Raffles (1981) The Morgow Rises! (1982) Snowbeast! (1983) Raven of Destiny (1984) Kiss of the Cobra (1984) Swamp! (1985) Angelus! (1985) and Nicor! (1987), to highlight a few of his great output.

The Curse of Loch Ness may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the fact is that for me, I’ll happily check out anything set in the area, from Scooby Doo and The Loch Ness Monster (2004 – and featuring the vocal talent of Sheena Easton) to that bizarre Ted Danson and Joely Richardson film Loch Ness (1996).

Wherever he goes in the British Isles however, Peter Tremayne always bones up on local lore and ancient myth, so The Curse of Loch Ness does come equipped with some pretty interesting stuff concerning Gaelic curses and quotes from The Great Book of Moray.   The hero is called Jeannie and the locals all say ‘och’ but what is most interesting about The Curse of Loch Ness is the horror, because the Loch Ness monster isn’t always associated with evil, fright and traditional old-fashioned monstrous malice. Yes, the Loch ness monster is a monster, but due to the fact that the monster is as much a marketing tool as a myth these days, I think the cuddly versions win out, as Nessie can’t be seen to be too bad — or else nobody would visit.