Sunday, March 05, 2006

'Casualty of Duty' by David D. Drexler

Review by Dawno

TITLE: Casualty of Duty
AUTHOR: David W. Drexler
PRICE: $14.99
GENRE: Thriller/polictical
ISBN: 1-905-36377-X
PUBLISHER: Exposure Publishing

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.

RATING: 3/10

8/10: Diggory press
7/10: Lighthouse



Dave said...

It is a little disheartening to know you couldn't even beat out 'The Vomit Factory (Life is Fake: Death is Good)', 3 vs 4.

Emily Veinglory said...

I have wondered whether the rating system is a good idea at all--but stuck with it so far. I assume most readers can look past that to see if a book might suit them more than it did a specific reviewer.

Jennifer L hart said...

The rating system is not a good idea because people are lazy and many don't read the full synopsis. Many people will make the decision based on the number out of ten, not what you (the reviewer) have carefully outlined as good and not so good points.

If you want to have a rating system, make it universal for all the reviewers and let the visitors/authors know what you judge the books by.

Dave said...

I agree with Jennifer. Before anyone thinks "sour grapes", I do thank the reviewer for at least reading my book. I can tell from the early synopsis that the reviewer did indeed read the book. The editing is poor, I admit that and it is entirely my fault. I will not go into why, too long of a story. I do disagree with the comments on the story itself. Based on other reviews and feedback I have gotten; people love the story. Given my years of political involvement, I can tell you the story is not unrealistic. Thank you to the reviewer and to the "POD People" for the opportunity, and good luck with site.

Dawno said...

Thank you Dave, for the feedback. I did, indeed read the entire story and as a reader the one thing that I must have is the ability to believe in the whole story. If someone is already of the mindset that true, deep, dark and unrelenting evil does exist at the highest levels of government with impunity, perhaps they will find the story more believable. I just couldn't.

Georges Rustov said...

i like the rating system. sometimes a review can be hazy and a numbered rating can help clarify what the reviewer thought. the reviews are only personal opinions. i have never purchased a book based on a review be it positive or negative. i read reviews to judge the quality of the reviews, and frankly, most of the reviews at this site have been pretty thin on specifics, and unfortunately thick with generalities. the reviewers don't seem quite sure of what role they're playing: are they here to help the POD author with advice? or are they here to help the book buyer with advice?

if they're here to help the POD author then they sure do go about it without much heart or empathy. praising is easy, but if you feel you must give the author bad news in order to help she/he make things better, then it is only fitting for a lady or a gentleman to do so with courtesy and class. your negative reviews come off as if the reviewer was holding his or her nose as they wrote it (in 10 minutes). this, i'm afraid, portends a short life for POD People. afterall, book buyers aren't coming to POD People, POD authors are.

shame on you.

Emily Veinglory said...

Dear Georges,

Reviews, successful or not, are written for readers more than authors. A 'sweetheart' arrangement between reveiwer sites and publishers is conterproductive in the end as the resulting reviews are not relaible and generally widely ignored.

All the authors who have contributed have done so with their eyes open and responded to mixed or critical reviews with wit and grace. All the reviews have been written with honesty in the interests of informing the reader and treating the writer, as a secondary consideration, fairly and constructively. Reviews are always the personal view of a single reviewer--and presented as such.

So far the only personal insult I have seen from anyone was from you and directed at our reviewers.