Verdict: By showing the readers only the vaguest of details, Ernest Hemingway asserted that the reader would detect the writer's expertise. Such a technique requires not only a knowledgeable writer but an extremely skilled one. With ACCIDENTAL EVILS, Steve Dimodica shows he is both.
In a review of American pulp stories, almost all of which were right-wing, Socialist writer George Orwell stated that the left was remiss in not using this genre to make progressive points:
“[A pulp magazine] with a ‘left’ slant and at the same time likely to have an appeal to ordinary” readers…is something almost beyond hoping for.”
For Orwell, an adventure story with a leftist tinge could easily be written, for all the ingredients were already present in the “conservative” adventures stories; all it would take would be to change the protagonist and point of view. He offered as an example a plot in which the police pursue an “Anarchist throughout the mountains,” except this time around the point of view is granted to the Anarchist.
Rather than expound on the evils of Anarchism, the author of such a story could take on the “gutter patriotism” of the ruling class and their tool, the secret police. Although not in any sense a socialist, Steve Dimodica, in this excellent adventure story, attacks the “gutter patriotism” of the far right personified by out of power angry military officers, who when in power, used an anti-communist mandate to hunt down leftists in Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s. Known as the “Dirty War,” a military junta engaged in state terrorism during its years in power (1974-1983), using the security apparatus at their disposal to hunt down all forms of the Left. In actuality, there was a mirror image of the far right on the left, peopled by violent and doctrinaire Communists and guerillas, called the People’s Revolutionary Army. But the government did not discriminate in its executions—called “disappearances” by the Argentina left today–killing socialists, who were more often than not, at odds with the PRA.
Such a set-up between extremes allows Dimodica some ready-made suspense. The back-drop is the out of power military, who are plotting a return to the good old days. Into this maelstrom comes college student Isabel Finley, who naively believes she can write her thesis on “The Dirty War” while visiting Argentina. Of course Finley becomes endangered, but she has an ace in the hole: a half brother who served in the Special Forces, the closest thing the American army has to a “guerilla” force (during the Vietnam War, these behind-the-lines soldiers were called “America’s Vietcong”).
On the surface, this plot device seems borrowed from the Liam Neeson film “Taken,” in which a CIA black operative murders his way into saving his daughter; the villain is a sex ring. And it is indeed similar. But Dimodica’s novel benefits immensely from his background in Special Forces. All of the violence visited on the villains by Calixto Lozen (an admirably picked name by Dimodica) is plausible without losing the almost superhuman capabilities of the Navy Seals (their spokesmen have said that the Seals were created to handle situations too tough for the regular military).
In the process, Dimodica has masterfully adopted what Ernest Hemingway called “the tip of the iceberg” approach. By showing the readers only the vaguest of details, Hemingway asserted that the reader would detect the writer’s expertise. Such a technique requires not only a knowledgeable writer but an extremely skilled one. In ACCIDENTAL EVILS, Steve Dimodica shows he is both.
~Ron Capshaw for IndieReader