Book Review: Privatizing Freedom by Daniel Brownell

This is my first commission from, so begins my career as a serious book blogger for budding writers like me to promote their self-published work.

The primary character, a homage to James Bond who goes by the name of Sherman Safel, is past his sell-by date but like any good MI6 agent is married to the job and will never retire while he can still chase international terrorists. Except this isn’t the world we know. World governments have gone all Thatcherite and privatised everything.

It has been many years since I’ve read a good old-fashioned spy thriller. The best thing about this book is that it is not old-fashioned, at least as not as I would understand it in terms of Craig Thomas’ much-loved Firefox (I was a fan of his at one point). There are all the hallmarks of that sort of book though but with the modern twist of a world where private armies rented out by mega-corporations are the norm. This is what Ian Fleming might have written if he’d lived under our current coalition government!

The plot is pretty standard. It doesn’t really jump out at me as being particularly exciting and neither is the character, but that says more about my fatigue for the style and the genre more than it does about the writer. I’m sure that somebody who is really into this genre is going to enjoy it, plus the added twist of corporate intrigue makes a refreshing change from it all being about Russia, Islamic militants or the alpha male manoeuvres of India and Pakistan.

The book falls down for me on so many levels. The main character, and most of the others for that matter, feel quite clichéd. They’re not particularly animated and could have done with a little bit of depth. I understand though that this style of book doesn’t tend to lend itself well to strong characterisation so this is pretty forgiveable – the writer is giving the market what it likes.

The writer could have done with an experienced editor. There are many over-long sentence that could have been halved in length and felt stronger for it. I spotted quite a few typos too – too many – suggesting that it hadn’t undergone serious editing (if it had had any at all). The dialogue doesn’t feel particularly organic and at times there is far too much exposition. All it needed was a good, thorough edit from from somebody with an eye for such detail. Presentation is everything; no matter how great a story is, if it is poorly presented you are going to lose your audience.

My final complaint is that it doesn’t feel sufficiently British. There are many American spellings and terms (overuse of United Kingdom when most people here call it “Britain” for example). There are also a few other things that irk me such as the of “the county of…” rather than just mentioning the county name “he was last seen in Kent a week ago” for example. I couldn’t accept that these characters were from the same country as my birth. A little research goes a long way. This might seem pedantic but if you’re trying to sell to a British audience, especially when paying homage to Bond, you need to get stuff like that right.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good story. It is just poorly executed.

This review only appears here as the writer did not want it posted at Amazon or Good Reads

I have since been advised by the author that it has undergone a substantial edit. Check Good Reads for the most up to date reviews

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