Review of “The Benevolent Deception” by Aiden L. Bailey


Aiden L. Bailey’s debut novel and first in a series, “The Benevolent Deception”, initially caught my eye when I noticed the creative and modern guerrilla marketing techniques utilized but the author on social media. Based on this positive first impression, I purchased the Kindle edition, expecting something progressive and intelligent, and I was not disappointed.

The opening sequence in a Land Rover driving down a bumpy dirt road in a conflict-ridden Nigeria, puts me right into the action, while introducing the main character – the security worker Simon Ashcroft.

Three stories are intertwined into a thickening plot throughout the book. While the first signs of the big deception come early on, there is a constant suspense as clues emerge one by one.

benevolent-chapter-1What I like most about the book is probably its intelligent characters. Personally I can’t stand characters displaying an irrational downright stupid behavior, just to accommodate the plot. Not thinking clearly, may be common and realistic human behavior, especially in extreme situations. But personally, as a reader or movie audience, it frustrates me to see characters, with the obvious solution right in front of them, repeatedly screwing up, because the writer couldn’t come up with a difficult enough situation for them to deal with.

In “The Benevolent Deception” however, the characters are sharp, and good at what they do. I get to follow them on their difficult journey and empathize with them as I try to figure out how I would have gotten myself out of that mess, only to be surprised at how well they handle it. For me personally, that’s how books and movies should be.

Since it’s the first part of a series to be continued, I’m left at the end with the uneasy feeling of not getting closure, as I’m faced with a bit of a cliffhanger. An abrupt ending. Kinda like this…

(Except in the case of the book, the reader wants to get their hands on the sequel. With this review, probably not so much.)

Hugo Allen character outline

As a part of the class “An Introduction to Screenwriting“ from Futurelearn, that I’m taking, here’s a character outline of the character Hugo Allen, whom I played in the movie The Hugo Allen Experience.

Hugo Allen
Hugo Allen, promo shot

List the character’s major actions. Start from the end and work backwards. (Don’t analyse how or why; just create a list of actions.)

  • Starts acting nicer, when he feels good about his life.
  • Deserts his friend, when it gets too personal and “real”.
  • Tries to pursue his dream, when thrown a bone.
  • Goes into destructive denial when he loses his chance
  • Acts arrogantly when given the power to fulfill his dream.
  • Tries to secure the promise of his dream by bugging an office.

Analyse the list to reveal the character’s wants and needs. Is the character aware of what they want?

  • Is dissatisfied and bitter about his disappointing career.
  • Is willing to break rules to get what he wants.
  • But is unwilling to work hard and consistently on it. Or unaware that he needs to.
  • Doesn’t handle failure constructively, blames others.
  • Feels powerless, so he exercises power over other people whenever given the opportunity.

Describe how the character thinks and look at his or her basic psychology. Intelligent? Intellectually engaged? Cognitive Biases? Impulsive? Cautious?

  • Intelligent, eloquent and witty.
  • Narcissistic.
  • Impulsive, not in control of his emotions.
  • A low self esteem makes him a bully.

Describe the character’s superficial affect. How might a casual acquaintance describe them?

  • Charming and likable, when he tries. A complete jerk when he doesn’t.

List any important physical characteristics

  • Middle-aged, past his prime.
  • Decent-looking, but not in the best shape anymore.