Review by Dawno
TITLE: Casualty of Duty
AUTHOR: David W. Drexler
PUBLISHER: Exposure Publishing
POINT OF SALE: www.davesnovel.com
What if a Presidential election was found to have been determined by one state’s votes, b ut those computerized votes turned to have been manipulated? Casualty of Duty is based on this intriguing premise. Captain Gary Hallstead is introduced on the first page as the defendant in a court martial. He stands accused of sedition, treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Hallstead is the project manager of a Department of Defense program to create the system that runs the computerized voting for Congressional and Presidential elections. Set in recent years (1996) using fictional political characters, Drexler tells the story of how a dedicated military man, committed to his oath to protect and defend the United States is instead accused of crimes against it and finds himself trapped in circumstances from which he has no escape and left with no one who can vindicate his actions.
Hallstead is a political naïf in the early chapters, but his long time friend and colleague, Larry Davis has a great love of politics and gives him an education in the platforms and personalities of the candidates who will be running for President in the upcoming election.
As the election draws near it becomes apparent that the incumbent, President Anderson stands a very good chance of losing. The challenger, Bill Barnes has chosen a “loose cannon” as his running mate, Ray Kline. Kline had been an opponent in the primaries and his delegates and support in the national campaign were crucial to Barnes’ ultimate success. Kline accepts the second chair and promises to align with Barnes’ agenda.
Unfortunately, in the campaign, Kline breaks his promise and makes statements contrary to Barnes’ position. None of this would matter if there wasn’t a problem that arises that calls into doubt whether Barnes will actually live to become President. This closely guarded secret becomes known to Senator Damon Larsen, who is having an affair with Barnes’ physician’s nurse. The Senator is from the same party as Barnes but he feels that a Kline presidency is worse than losing to the opposing party and starts the sequence of events that leads to Captain Hallstead’s trial. Unbeknownst to the Senator and Hallstead there are many more layers to this conspiracy and the ultimate desires of the instigators are not as they believed them to be.
The idea for this work is a good one that held early promise. The details about the computer programming project, the mindset and attitudes of the military characters and the description of election politics are solid. Where the book falls short is in the machinations of the antagonists – primarily some members Congress, both Democrat and Republican, who feared having Kline in the White House, and of the CIA who are darkly over-dramatic. It strains ones credulity as to the lengths these characters were willing to go in achieving their goals and that they could actually get away with it. Lastly, there are several instances in the plot where the author introduces somewhat maladroit plot devices to ensure that every effort to rescue Hallstead goes awry leaving the reader with a book where justice does not prevail in the end.
As to the construction of the work, the frequent shifts from the first person to the third person point of view are a bit bewildering. A reader is left wondering how the first person narrator knows what’s going on in the back rooms and minds of the other characters. There is also a lot of detailed information written as straight narrative more suited to a freshman political science lecture. Add to that the numerous typographical and grammatical errors and the final analysis is that this story needed strong editorial oversight before it was published.
8/10: Diggory press
AVERAGE RATING: 6/10