By Steven Martinovic
Spurred on by events like Ruby Ridge and Waco, a federal drive for increased gun control and quite frankly a zeitgeist informed by The X-Files' contention of massive government conspiracies, the 1990s may have been the heyday of the self-published conservative novel. It seemed like countless novels were written which featured an authoritarian federal government and the patriots that opposed them. With the election of Barack Obama in 2008 many expected a resurgence in the genre but surprisingly the efforts have seemingly been relatively few.
Jerry Clinton Oliver is one of those few that continue to toil away, most recently with his latest novel The Diary – a sequel to his earlier 2008 effort A Time to Stand. In that earlier novel Oliver tells the story of a small Oklahoma town that sparks an American revolution after a heavy-handed federal government insists on imposing itself in every aspect of life. In this latest effort, Oliver moves the story about two decades forward when life has returned back to relatively normal with a new American government after a successful patriot revolution.
In California, Michael Jobe, a small town reporter who spends most of his time covering high school sporting events and hustling for advertisers for the newspaper he works at discovers to his amazement that a hero from that revolution is living anonymously at a nearby retirement home. With the hopes of an interesting story he interviews the elderly man and discovers that he was an emissary from the American revolutionary government holding court in Ottawa to militia groups across the United States during the war. More amazingly, the man has proof that Joe Carson, one of the current candidates for president, was a spy during the war on behalf of the former U.S. government but that his crime was covered up and largely forgotten.
Nor is all that it seems to be with the new government of the United States. Although formed with the ideal of returning the U.S. to its original mission, it has been subverted to the point where there is little difference between the revolutionary government and the one that it replaced. In an attempt to protect itself, the federal government targets Jobe and his elderly ward are eventually forced on the run while dodging ruthless assassins. Ever the reporter, Jobe hopes to live long enough to reveal the truth about Carson in what would be the story of a lifetime…assuming that liberty's enemies allow the truth to be revealed.
The Diary does come with some issues, however, most notably of pacing. Where Oliver's earlier novel A Time to Stand seemed to move too quickly through events, his latest spends far too much time setting up events before flicking the first domino. And once those events begin, what should have been the meat of the story is dispatched with extraordinary speed. A flashback to a revolutionary battle in New York City – complete with a government super weapon – is over in a blink. More disappointingly, The Diary's end comes abruptly as a result of a deus ex machina that that had no hint of its approach. The Diary remains a largely enjoyable effort but pacing does undermine what Oliver worked to achieve.
Still, at the end of the day The Diary is an enjoyable effort and it was a pleasure to return to the world that Oliver has created. The ending does lend itself to a third entry in the series so hopefully at some point in the future Oliver will revisit and we can find out whether the nation ultimately finds out that it didn't receive what it fought for.
Buy The Diary at http://booksbyoliver.com/
Steven Martinovich is the founder and editor of Enter Stage Right.