Friday 25 November 2011

Books: "The Story of Loch Ness" by Frank Searle

Frank Searle is well known to Loch Ness researchers and is held in varying degrees of contempt, hatred and sympathy depending on who you talk to. I have already briefly talked of him here but in our occassional series of book reviews we come to his small 16 page work "The Story of Loch Ness" published in 1977.

Frank wrote four books, one which was unpublished and was reviewed by me in the link above but this small work seems to have been privately published and was aimed at a more local level for tourists and other interested individuals. I say privately published because I do not see the work listed at the National Library of Scotland and anything published in the public domain almost inevitably reaches their vaults (finding a copy even in this Internet age is not easy, I will pay £20 to anyone that wishes to part with it). The only reason I could read a copy was due to its availability as an ebook purchase (which you can read about here).

The booklet was published at a time when Nessie interest was at a new high, possibly higher than the 1930s. As a result, many books were published on the Loch Ness Monster aiming to cash in on the heightened public interest. In that regard, Frank Searle's book is no surprise though it has to be said that his other work "Nessie: Seven Years in Search of the Monster" was more aimed at the general paperback market.

Being such a small publication aimed at people new to the subject, one would not expect anything groundbreaking as it runs through various facts about Loch Ness and its famous inhabitant. Once again, Frank's antipathy to large, organised searches is evident as he talks about the failure of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau or any other visiting teams to find any cast iron proof of Nessie. It seems from his statements that surveillance of the loch by the LNIB tailed off in the last couple of years of its existence. Whether this was because of lack of volunteers, equipment or diversion to other activities is not made clear. However, he uses this observation to elevate the role of the single, lone observer but thirty four years on from the booklet, this method of operation has also failed to yield the final, definitive proof. Clearly, something else needs to be thought out here (and, no, it is not to give up!).

Though Frank Searle saw the monster as plesiosaur-like, he veered towards the idea of a creature that did not need to come up for air, but what he thought it was beyond that is not said. One surprising comment he made was that he did not give any credence to land sightings. I am a believer in this behaviour of the creature but Frank Searle was not convinced due to his belief that they did not breath air and would have trouble getting their large bulk onto shore plus overcoming some of the steeper shelves of the loch side. He also cites the lack of tracks, stripped vegetation (does he assume Nessie has herbivorial traits?) and the assumption that it would be so slow as to be easily photographed.

I don't think these are issues if they are thought through more deeply, and I will address these on a more dedicated posting.

But overall it was a good read and worthy of inclusion in any one's Loch Ness Monster library.


  1. Can't help with the above publication, but Frank seems to be behind this one as well?