Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Single Acts of Tyranny

I just finished reading Stuart Fairney’s novel Single Acts of Tyranny.

It’s a cracking read which Fairney claims to be “a beach novel with a libertarian philosophy”.

Now it’s probably against the rules of book reviewing to say the best summation I can think of is to quote the author! But that is exactly what it is.

Now I found this description ominous before I read the book. How can you combine the two without it sounding disjointed? And yes the novel does contain some polemics of a libertarian form but they feel integral because it is essentially a political thriller so of course the characters talk politics at times!

Anyway, it works and has really nice moments that I can’t give away. Except to say “talking about nuns”. That pivotal scene is realised very nicely and sees the villain of the piece reveal to the heroine his one true weakness. Having that within seconds of them meeting is pretty original and it creates a lovely tension as the plot unfolds. Both the reader and Halle du Bois knows John Legree’s weakness. He has his sword of Damocles hanging over him from the start.

So I’m giving Single Acts of Tyranny almost two thumbs up.

“Almost” because there are flaws. This is difficult to explain. They are niggles really but the problem is that I like to feel immersed in a book and these jolt you back into your own reality and not the author’s. Some are just poor editing. Halle would never call her mother “Mum” because she’s Atlantan she’d say “Mom”. Just really silly stuf like that that is only annoying because otherwise you’re really enjoying the book. And then there are the sex scenes. Now I know these are notoriously difficult to write well but these really are bad. The use of the word “impaled” springs to mind. So if Fairney has a bit of time on his hands and plans to revise the novel then there are some pointers.

In summary. It’s a spot on little novel with some annoying glitches which are only annoying because they take you out of the fictional world. They momentarily force you to unsuspend your disbelief. And I’m not being dismissive by using the word “little”. It’s short and that is good. I thought I’d add that because the term “political thriller” generally conjures images of tombstone tomes.

You can get it here. And it’s only seven quid so give it a go.

Might I suggest a sequel. Halle du Bois running for the presidency of the newly re-united USA?

11 Comments

  1. View from the Solent says:

    Have to disagree with you there, Nick. I finished it yesterday, and was disappointed. A great plot let down by the writing. To me it came cross as a polemic padded out with two-dimensional characters. It felt as though it was dashed off in a great hurry.
    A pity, it could have been so much more.

    But, it’s great that we can have differing views and opinions (for the moment, anyway – not sure for how long that will be allowed).

  2. Lynne says:

    I’m intrigued. Taking both criticisms on board I think I’ll troll the second hand book shops for a copy. That way it won’t cost me £7 if I don’t like the book.

  3. First, thanks for the review and thanks also for the honest comments, both blog author and commentators.

    Second to Lynne, send me a postal address to singleactsoftyranny at yahoo dot co dot uk and I will comp you one.

    If there ever is a second edition, or volume 2 or whatever, I would have some of the niggles picked up. It was an entirely self-funded and self-published affair and a professional copywriter could no doubt improve it. The basic strategy was to get about 500 to 1,000 sold and then try to get a publisher who has enough greed to overcome his liberal credentials on the back of sales achieved prvately. Thanks to you and some other kind bloggers, sales aren’t at all bad, albeit selling through Amazon Advantage is a portal for self-publishers, but they drive a hard, hard bargain.

    Thanks once again.

  4. Sam Duncan says:

    I still haven’t finished it (I’m not a slow reader by any means; it’s just been pushed to the back burner by Other Things), but from what I’ve read so far that’s a fair assessment. I haven’t reached the sex scenes yet, but the nun bit was brilliant.

    SAOT, I was inclined to say in my comment to Nick’s original post that it reads exactly like a self-published book, but didn’t want to sound over-critical because I think you’re definitely on to something with it. If it’s any encouragement, I suspect I’m not the only one who’d buy a second, edited, copy if you ever get a “proper” deal, on the basis that this one is really little more than a draft.

  5. Ian B says:

    Ah, copy editing. Serious business. Reminds me of the earnest debate I had a few months ago with Hustler about the correct grammatical usage of the word “cum”.

  6. Lynne says:

    SAOT – That’s very kind of you but I’ll buy a copy if it’s a self-publication. Print runs do cost. I’m not a copy editor but I taught creative writing a few years ago. If you would like to send me the first chapter I’ll look it over. If that’s okay just say yes and I’ll contact you through the email addy on your website. I don’t want to give out my own addy for all to see.

    Lynne

  7. Ian B says:

    SAOT, just a thought, but it’d be nice to be able to read an excerpt or two before purchase on your website. In a bookshop I’d read a few pages before purchase, and on the net I like to be able to do the same.

  8. CountingCats says:

    Nick,

    Thanks for giving the ending away……..

  9. @ Ian B ~ I will see if I can get Amazon to do this and I will also put a few pages up myself, this is a good idea, thanks.

    @ Lynne ~ if I do go second edition, I will indeed avail myself of your kind offer, thank you.

  10. Lynne says:

    SAOT – you’re welcome. :)

  11. I'm his mate says:

    Dreadful grammar and spelling mistakes but who cares – Paraphrasing one of our great politicians “Copy, Copy Copy”.

    This chap has written some wonderful stuff(never published).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: