Article first published as Book Review: ‘Fiat’ by Jeffrey D. Schlaman on Blogcritics.
Apocalyptic, and near apocalyptic, fictions abound in the United States of America. It may be something in the drinking water. But whatever the reason, there is a thrill in reading speculative accounts of how things “might” unfold in the near or distant future, with a rehearsal of causes and an accounting of results. Jeffrey D. Schlaman has applied his hand to the trade in a soon-to-be-published 310-page thriller, “Fiat,” where the author pictures a not-too-distant time in America when the economy begins rapidly collapsing, bringing about near civic and social anarchy.
Most of the storyline of “Fiat” revolves around three groups of people who are oddly connected, and clearly on opposing sides. There is the scheming, power-hungry Scotsman, Chris McCleod, who ends up capturing the leadership of the Federal Reserve, manipulatively towering over the Libertarian President, Rex Ronald. By hook and by crook McCleod secures his puppet-master rule. Opposing him is his ex-lover, the previous head of the Fed, Sarah Hill. After being deposed from her high position, she is swept up into the inner-workings of the newborn One World Church, and taken by the mesmerizing influence by Bishop Locateli. Finally, there is the utopian-wannabe community under the declining leadership of Uncle Al, and his close relative, Jeff; both of whom are related to Chris McCleod. The unfolding of the various inner stories of each group is often captivating, bringing the reader to turn pages and push on. Schlaman has the makings of a good fiction writer.
Some of the strong suits of the novel come out in these inner stories. For example, following Mary and her children as they make their way across a crumbling American landscape to Uncle Al’s “Ranch” and safe haven is believable and exciting. There is also the growing dissatisfaction inside the “Ranch” because of Uncle Al’s inability to lead, and what appears to be the decline of the utopia into dystopia. Most of these inside-stories were quite entrancing.
There are several downers in the novel. First, this is a book in search of a good editor. Once one is secured, many of the misspellings, untidy breaks, and mild discontinuities will be cleared up making it a better read. Then there is the unnecessary use, or misuse, of profanities that grate on one’s nerves and sensibilities. Finally, the overt agenda comes through all too clearly. The return to a gold standard, the rise of a more Libertarian government (which comes out more libertine than Libertarian), and the age-old cant about how our world economies, wars, etc. are all controlled from behind the scenes by the big banking houses (in “Fiat” that means the Rothschilds). I would have to say that this part tediously wears on the reader’s patience and pleasure. Tell a good story for the story’s sake, craft it well; and then where natural, weave in your pet peeves, but don’t allow them to be the story.
“Fiat” by Jeffrey D. Schlaman appears to be the beginning of a series, and has several strengths that show the writer may well become a solid author as he continues to hone his artistries. In several places within the story the reader will find herself, or himself, getting happily caught up. Nevertheless I can only give the book a mild recommendation.