Set in the near future, an autocracy has grabbed hold of the United States, and at its center sits the monstrous yet insipid leader, the Dictator. Anti-government restiveness courses through the country, putting the Dictator on edge and inspiring plots against him. Fear and violence rule the land while protest and intrigue — even the occult — fuel the resistance.
In DICTATOR, author Donald Kozlosky offers a darkly satirical look at what occurs during a out-of-control despotic reign. DICTATOR weaves the wicked exploits of the tyrant together with the deeds of conspirators committed to his assassination, a network that includes a retired CIA agent, McPherson, and a witch unaware of her gift, Jennifer Golembeski. Clearly intended to lampoon present day political leaders, the book drags the reader through the Dictator’s cloistered chambers, an experience that can be both bitingly humorous and utterly repellent.
Not only does the incoherent Dictator carry out harmful policies that lock up immigrants and suppress minorities, he is surrounded by a grotesque menagerie of hucksters and sycophants. The Dictator’s court is populated by numerous revolting characters, some literally covered in grime, vomit and excrescence. The madcap zaniness of this milieu is something out of a Marx Brothers film, like a scatalogical Duck Soup. The leader and his minions are so rapacious, callous and personally odious that nothing is shocking, even when the devil himself comes to play.
Despite the vivid description of decadent despotism, DICTATOR really comes alive in the passages involving the resistance, particularly those tracing Golembeski and McPherson. Golembeski is a spirited woman scraping by in her jobs and buoyed by simple pleasures, whether knocking back a few or enjoying a week’s paid vacation. Her moral center carries the story, as the reader learns about her willingness to fight for those in need regardless of her humble circumstances. McPherson, brought out of retirement by the Dark State bureaucrats disturbed by the Dictator’s government, adds gravity to the story even as elements of witchcraft are layered on.
What drives DICTATOR is the heat between the opposing forces of wanton tyranny and human dignity and freedom. In a soliloquy by the advisor, Lucre Munchkin, gives up the black heart of the dictatorship who says they want to sell out “any of those reprehensible men of principle who cannot be bought.” As DICTATOR shows, when democracy has collapsed and rights are seized, some are willing to fight for principles that benefit all of humankind and won’t be bought off or cowed by powerful interests.
DICTATOR, a darkly satirical take on an out-of-control despotic government and the network of individuals committed to taking it down, is by turns bitingly humorous and off-putting, but ultimately the members of the resistance are winsome enough to carry the tale.
~Kai Olson-Sawyer for IndieReader