I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble a warning of what was to come took the form of a young woman's body, or what was left of it, washed up on the long, white stretch of beach. A summer of terror has begun.
I read this book for the Fear the Drowning Deep square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.
This is purportedly a book about a monster shark. I would beg to differ—the shark is just a catalyst for the very human drama that became the main thing for me. Police chief Martin Brody is a conscientious policeman—he isn’t perfect and he knows it, but he is striving to do the right thing. He’s not up against the shark really, he’s up against those with money who want to make more money. Shutting down the town beach during the July 4th weekend is going to hurt the community economically, but powerful people seem to value money over human life.
We get a good look at “the old boys club” in action in Jaws. Their indifference to potential deaths is far scarier than the enormous Great White that is cruising the shore. They are as indifferent as the beast itself. We also get a glimpse back in time to society in the 1970s—women are still mostly housewives, maybe with a side job to help with family finances. Only the elderly woman who runs the post office seems to be able to speak her mind without reservation, as she has no husband to police her behaviour.
The icthyologist who admires the shark, but has a sexual liaison with Ellen Brody, ends up self-destructing—it’s unclear which issue he’s being punished for, siding with nature against humanity or breaking societal expectations with another man’s wife.
I’m pretty sure that I read this back in junior high school (at the time it was originally published), but the only familiar thing was that cover! I’m pretty sure that my teenage self was reading entirely for the sharky bits, not so much for the human stuff.