Author: David Thomas Roberts
- This was a review copy, provided at no cost to the reviewer.
It should be duly noted right out at the forefront of this review that this is definitely a very in your face kind of book as it relates to its political dealings. Unashamedly, it’s a tin foil hat wearing, ‘right wingers’ kind of book mixing elements of current events and the author’s own imaginings. And it does have a political agenda. Everything from the content, the timing of the release, and the author’s background and bio on the jacket sleeve will give you this much info. That said, if that isn’t your cup of tea, I don’t know why you’d bother reading it, or this review in the first place. I do not award extra points for this book’s political leanings which admittedly do not fall far from my own, nor do I take away any points for said leanings either, any more than I would take them away for a liberal book about a fictional mock up of the George W. Bush administration.
A good story is a good story, and I for one am able to set aside controversy even in books and movies whose politics I don’t agree with, if it’s done well. A good example of that would be the Mark Whalberg movie ‘Shooter’, a fun political shoot em’ up about a similar assassination attempt framed on a lone-gunman, in this case a recently returned soldier, but with a decidedly liberal bent to its’ hero. That out of the way, let’s dive in to the actual book review, shall we?
Patriots of Treason, written by David Thomas Roberts and released just a short time before the elections in November 2012, is the story of a liberal government run amuck, and the ‘conservative counter culture movement that stands up to set things right. Tyrell Johnson, who is of course, the fictional stand in for sitting president Barack Obama, is dangerously close to losing his bid for re-election, and so he stages a very special ‘October Surprise’ that involves taking action in an ongoing middle east crisis with Iran (trying to avoid spoilers here, but they might spill out here and there so read at your own peril) to get the vote to swing back his way. After that all goes down, suddenly, a failed assassination attempt on the POTUS takes place, which is blamed on a lone member of the ‘Tea Party’ (yes, THAT Tea Party), which leads to a massive cover up, government agents taking the law and the constitution in their own hands and the general thuggery and black hat nonsense you’d come to expect from an administration of this type.
Back home in Texas though there are those with the grit and tenacity to put a stop to this jackbootery, and not just your Fox News watching, Pabst Blue Ribbon drinking, general ruffians you’d expect, but people of actual position such as Texas Rangers, and people in high office, all the way up to and including the Governor of Texas. But again, that’s just the groundwork, and it is not this reviewers intention of re-telling the entire story of this book, but merely to give my opinion on how well the actual story teller told his story.
One small criticism here right off the bat, one of the writer’s weaknesses, in my opinion, is that he wasted way too many words describing unimportant details of superfluous objects. The calibers of guns, the exact fuel capacity of vehicles, the size of submarines and so on are at various times given in great detail, which slows the flow of the story and robs the characters of space to grow. It may be interesting to someone who hobbies in those areas, but for the rest of us, that is space that could have been used to give the actual characters a little more meat in their back stories, or some kind of general fleshing out.
Not that they were necessarily flat, but they never really escaped the stereotypical roles they portrayed in my mind to become people that I deeply cared about.
I forget where I heard it but a famous writer giving some advice once said, you can tell if a person who knows what he’s writing about versus one that doesn’t by the amount of detail he or she pours into the unimportant specifics. For example, someone who’s never been inside a NASA spaceship may feel the need to impress you by giving you an exhausting rundown of every gadget and sprocket on the ship, while someone with a more comfortable mastery over the subject would simply glide over that stuff and focus on the things that actually matter to the story he was telling. Again, that is a small criticism though as I am guilty often of being overly ‘wordy’ myself and often fall to the temptation of going overboard in certain areas to compensate for this or that.
I haven’t read a great deal of political thrillers in my time, so I’m not in a position to really compare this book with any of the gems of that particular genre, but I do read a good number of fictional books, and while I was able to read this fairly briskly, it never really grabbed me in an urgent way that truly great fictional writing does. That said, the story was interesting enough to hold my attention and never truly bore me, and if there is a sequel, which from what I’ve read there will be, I would be interested in seeing what comes next in this overall story. It’s not an ominous tome, if you’re afraid of that, compared to the last book I read, a 1200 page whopper (which will soon get its own review) ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King this was more like a pamphlet, which can be read easily in a number of days.
Final verdict? If you’re big a fan of fantasy political thrillers such as those written by Joel Rosenberg, or especially if you’re a proud Texan, I’d say check this out if you can find it and if you have the time to spare, but it’s not exactly going on my must read list for this year, or any other. Still, congratulations to the author on getting his work published, and for writing a timely story that managed to both entertain and make me think.