I have taken some time off to clear the mind a bit and have undertaken a round of writing reviews of other peoples works. It is a very stimulating exercise which I recommend if you have never tried it. I wonder sometimes how some people can live with the obvious despair they must have in their hearts, I could never bring myself to construct some of the bleak stories I have read. Where, I wonder, has all the reckless joy of living gone? Well that aside, I have to say there are some very good writers out there and it is a great pity that in this world of mass publishing opportunities the vast majority will just never get selected to be read from among the myriad of works offered for sale. So I do my little bit to help, reviews being the life blood of book publishing in this age.
Another of my zen like activities has been to catch up with my painting, which I have sadly neglected these last few years. A dear friend is lucky enough to have wonderfully luminous studio in a village close by and I have the good fortune to be able to go there whenever I want to dabble away. I have been sloshing of a goodly amount of the jolly old acrylic and am showing signs of getting back a bit of the old skills. I find that some maturity, in the chronological meaning of the word, not the character development you understand, has given me a greater interest in the human form and movement. Principally that of the female, I will admit. This is another exercise I recommend for clearing some of the accumulated rubbish from the cranium, the sheer frustration of trying to express yourself on canvas leaves no room for useless regurgitation of unresolved problems.
I am in danger of sitting cross legged and humming in a monotone with my finger tips pressed together. Excepting the knee joints will no longer allow such stupidity.
Guess what I find I am writing again as well, how will I fit it all in?
When secret agent Arlo is subjected to a gratuitous attack from an unscrupulous well-known thug his career is thrown into question having sustained injuries in an non operational encounter. Whilst his self-confidence is severely damaged, to the extent he seriously considers withdrawing from the secrat service, his fellow agents plan a revenge on his adversary. In a series of claw biting actions they execute a coordinated action to inflict retribution and humiliation on the dastardly animal. This is a tail gripping story that makes the fur stand on end and finishes in a suitably crushing, fur flying…..but I will not spoil it for you. You must read this book.
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SOME REVIEWS OF BASIL ACKROYD’S FRANCE
“With the solution to all of his problems almost within reach, the mayor of a small French town, a British expatriate, becomes the focus of a national scandal, fraud investigation, counterterrorism manhunt, blackmail scheme and paparazzi feeding frenzy.
This story is a delightful romp through the trials and errors of Basil Ackroyd’s life. His ups, downs, advances, retreats, genius and ineptitude. The author has crafted a tale that involves a bit of political intrigue, a touch of mystery, a well thought out comedy of errors, irreverent humor, a well-written supporting cast and Basil.
Basil Ackroyd is completely despicable—morally bankrupt, corrupt, completely self-serving and abrasive. He is thoroughly convinced that he is the only intelligent being in a world of idiots, and tirelessly endeavors to perfect the art and science of official malfeasance for personal gain. He attempts to corrupt everyone and everything he touches. Basil is also one of the most interesting characters I have read in a long time. I enjoyed his faults, elaborate schemes, tirades, irreverent observations and ability to unwittingly destroy his own plans. He is one of those characters I know I am supposed to hate, but I like him anyway. He made me laugh, cringe and shake my head in wonder.”
“The author does a wonderful job of bringing Basil’s world and its inhabitants to life. Several minor characters are introduced, in rapid fire fashion, at the beginning of the book, but individual personalities stand out quite well—a no-nonsense barkeeper, the timid policeman, a band of geriatrics who behave like a gang of teenaged miscreants, Basil’s seemingly brainless secretary who consistently saves the day, Basil’s unhappy yet dutiful wife and others. These are the residents of Durac, a French town saddled with Basil’s unique brand of governance and drawn into the machinations of nefarious outsiders.
The author does a wonderful job in some of the dialogs in which the characters have completely different perceptions which turns the meaning of their speeches into three distinct interpretations: what the speaker thinks he is conveying; what the listener thinks the speaker means; and what the reader learns by knowing the mindsets of the speaker, the listener, and what is going on.”
“Real estate shenanigans, marijuana-infused beer, a French-style theme park, and numerous liaisons are mixed and mashed together in this sprawling fast-paced story which takes place in the days leading up to VE day in a small French town. Subplots abound to accommodate various pairings and nefarious business arrangements. Deceptions are the order of the day. Government ineffectiveness is an underlying theme. As befitting a farce, as the mass of lies increased, the pace accelerated as the characters headed toward their inevitable collisions.”
“Quirky characters populate the French countryside in Douglas Spencer Wallis’ Futile Deceptions. The story mainly centers around Basil Ackroyd, a corrupt British expat who serves as mayor to a sleepy town in rural France, largely populated by other expats. He is engaged in a wide array of unethical/illegal wheelings and dealings. It would have been easy to make Ackroyd a villain, but Wallis provides such a cast of comically nefarious characters, he doesn’t come off too bad. Everybody has an angle, some of them are just too dull to be any good at scamming each other. This is a farcical comedy that invites readers to revel in the absurdity of serious matters including runaway nationalism and corruption.
None of the characters is realistic, but they are all still relatable. Rural France comes off sounding like a lovely place to visit, even if all of the locals are crazy.
In all, Futile Deceptions is a fun read, good to take on vacation or for general unwinding.”
“Take a generous helping of Âllo Âllo, add an equal measure of Fawlty Towers and a soupçon of Brian Rix farces, whisk thoroughly into the batter of Douglas Wallis’ vivid imagination then pour into a very deep pan. Bake at a high heat to allow the many layers of subplots to separate out and voilá – you are ready for the rollercoaster experience of Basil Ackroyd’s France.
“This story is about the English mayor of a small French town Basil Ackroyd. It would have been easy to make Ackroyd a rogue in this wonderful gambol through the tribulations and blunders of this corrupt British expat’s life but he is skilfully revealed as inept as he is ineffective in his cumbersome schemes of self-betterment. We should dislike this unprincipled and totally amoral man who tries to profit from all around him, but one ends up hoping against hope he will survive the maelstrom of self inflicted disasters, which cove an unlikely broad canvas of political intrigue, administrative corruption, racial tensions and terrorism. It is a chaotic helter-skelter of a story that cannot be put down and is well worth reading.”
“Just Recompense, the second instalment of Basil Ackroyd’s France, rises to the lofty bar set by Futile Deceptions.
Amid the aftermath of his previous series of disasters, Basil is confronted by characters from his past. We learn a little more about him, as the master manipulator and swindler is played by those of his own ilk. Everyone is working an angle, some more than one, or hiding a secret. Even Basil’s wife and the uselessly timid policeman are knee deep in conspiracy.
Once again, the author weaves irreverent humor with comedy of errors and Basil’s unique penchant for self-destruction into a laugh-out-loud entertaining tale. Fear not, the author does not recycle his gags from the first book. Basil falls into new traps, of his own making, and finds new ways to thwart himself at every turn, while the townspeople scratch their heads with disbelief, jump to conclusions and scramble to conceal their own secrets.
Basil’s secretary, Sylvie, has her performance kicked up a few notches and is the surprise gem of this tale. She simultaneously serves as the story’s bubbly air-headed sex object, moral compass, Basil’s harshest critic and chief saviour.
If you enjoy dark humor, read this book. If you do not enjoy dark humor, read this book and you will learn to like it. Read this book and its predecessor, and you will be hooked.”
“This book reads like a BBC comedy, in a good way. The characters are quirky, and they create their own mayhem in a confined community in France. The characters and their foibles become the plot elements that move the story forward, with ever- escalating conflicts playing off the various personalities. It took me some time to adjust to the comedic tempo. Once I adjusted I found the tempo of the story telling was a good match for the plot as it plodded and tumbled humorously forward. The story centers around a recreation center that has burned down, and the extreme measures the mayor takes to make sure the resulting insurance claim is handled the way he wants. It turns out everyone in town has their own secrets that relate back to that event, and they all have to come clean in one way or another. This is a welcome find in an independent book. You’ll like it the most if you like quaint, small-town humor. This is a welcome change from the formula based books you may find in main-stream publishing.”
I had a long discussion with a gentleman in Morocco at lunch time, they are having remarkably good weather for the season and life seems very pleasant. It obviously induces a feeling of well being because he appeared to be oblivious of the fact that I was bloody furious and find being telephone every lunch time by someone offering the services of an expert to heat my house by solar panels, despite it being obvious I am in a town of historic interest where such things are forbidden and I don’t wish to to be sold things unsolicited by phone. I wish him and his family well, but I wish his employers be hit by a bloody meteorite.