Tyrannicide: The Story of the Second American Revolution (A Novel)

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Published 10 years ago -

by Evan Keliher

Review by Dan Geddes

Editor’s note: The Satirist does not endorse tyrannicide in any way. This is just a book review!


The novel Tyrannicide: The Story of the Second American Revolution hilariously depicts a viable rebellion in modern-day America. Tyrannicide portrays a time quite like our own (US in the 2000’s). In the novel however a patriot movement springs up that takes violent action against the government until its demands are met. While this is a dramatic situation, the tenor of the novel is decidely comedic, as it satirizes the destrutive greed of the federal government.

A Member of Congress is shot dead in a Washington DC parking lot. The police find no clues, but it is clear that robbery was not the motive (the Congressman carried thousands and dollars in ill-gotten cash and still wore his Rolex watch). But the Feds plant the story that it was a robbery in order to close down any public speculation about the motives and identities of the killers, about whom they still know nothing.

When a second Congressman is killed a few weeks later, it’s harder to keep the lid on the story.

Then representatives of the rebels make contact with Bob Ingersoll, a Washington columnist, from whose perspective the story is told. Bob is a progressive journalist, one that the rebels believe might be sensitive to their cause: restoration of power to the people and honest government. The anonymous note states that the purpose of the killings is in fact tyrannicide, as a means to coerce the current corrupt regime to leave power. The rebels demand that power be returned to the people. Bob and his editor decide they must alert the FBI. The FBI demands to be informed of any further communications with the suspects, and they invoke the Patriot Act to put a gag order on their publishing the sensational story. So Bob is supposed to lay low for a while.

Bob decides to hide out with his friend, Colleen, who is a fashion editor, and a babe. They like to cook dinner, drink wine and smoke pot together. And then screw. And exchange funny and cynical banter. But maybe there is more to it this time.

The novel’s humor is quite infectiousness. “The congressmen were so crooked that they could hide behind corkscrews.” Keliher righteousnessly denounces the shameless corruption in Washington, DC. Members of Congress are here assumed to be involved in criminal corruption. When congressmen are murdered, no one can think of anything honest and good to say about them at their funerals. Even members of the clergy fear the wrath of God for inventing kind words about them at their memorial services.

The plot thickens when a spokesman for the rebellion steps forward and presents the rebel’s demands. Bob has to decide where his conscience lies in this struggle between justice and established power.

Tyrannicide is an interesting premise for a novel. Many Americans will be sympathetic–not because of any violent urges–but simply because they are tired of being screwed over by the system. It’s not a “realistic” novel for many reasons. It stretches credulity that the police could find no clues while using state-of­-the-art forensics. Of course, the overall premise is not believable. It’s a kind of fantasy, an imaginative leap to show an imaginary path toward “justice” after years inept and corrpupt government. This is a novel where you have to accept the premise for purposes of following the story.

And so in this dark time of authoritarian repression Tyrannicide (the novel) is actually good-hearted fun. It dares to say things that many people are afraid to say about the corrupt government that is mismanaging the nation into poverty, and instilling in the people a fear of terrorism that surpasses even Cold War nightmares of nuclear holocaust.

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