Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith

forty acres book cover A Compelling First Effort – 3.5 Stars

I feel a bit torn over this one. On one hand, I really liked the concept of the novel. The author manages to make a point, avoids being “preachy” while still managing to entertain. Just so the previous comment does not mislead, I do not consider this to be “message fiction”. It simply deals with real issues (Slavery and racism) through a plot that it purposely overblown and deeply in the fringes of the most radical of any civil rights movement.

I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding a person deep in the left field of feminism (technically she claims she is not a feminist). If you are interested in an entertaining few minutes, you can check out her views here The point is, like the male culling non-feminist in the link, there is much entertainment value in the fringes of any form of movement.

Plot summary

In all fairness to the author of this novel, he is in no way endorsing any of the insane ideas the antagonists of this novel put forward.

Martin Grey is a successful, African American Lawyer with a passion for civil rights litigation. He and his Jewish business partner have built an up and coming legal practice and are set for great things after a major victory against a big corporation and the city’s top lawyer. After his unlikely victory, he finds himself swept up in the company of other titans of their trade, all of whom happen to be black. He soon finds himself invited into their confidence where he learns that some elements of society believe that the best way to heal from the sins of the past is to cleanse ones soul through revenge. Will Martin decide that there is truth amongst the fringe? You will have to read to find out.

The Good

Great Idea

Despite any criticism I have of the novel, the concept was very interesting. I read the novel quickly and was not bored. The story relies on the assumption that the reader is interested in the unlikely. I have seen other reviewers criticise the story for being unrealistic. It might be. Could it happen? Could it be happening right now? I think it is certainly possible. This plot continues to play out all over the world, including right here in North America, on various scales, day in and day out. The unlikely causes the reader to think of what might be likely and to consider what might be the realistic and the proper avenues to deal with injustice and inequality.

The Bad

Almost But Not Quite

While I was taken in by the concept of a society of Black men who wish to persevere the institution of slavery for their own benefit, the writing lacked a certain spark. Overall, I found the prose tended to be simplistic. The story felt like it was a well written, self published novel. The author had a bad habit of stating the obvious. His was good at showing us but then seemed to lose faith in the intelligence of reader and proceeded to explain to us what we just saw. Its like a comedian explaining his jokes to an audience after the laughter subsided.

Final Thoughts

This is not an ordinary thriller and an interesting twist. It may be that the book would have benefited from more stringent and aggressive editing. Regardless, the author has talent and is a good storyteller. If the author continues to write thrillers I will keep my eyes open for his next offering.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest

Sex 3

There are several scene of sexual encounters. One scene is mildly graphic. There is some sexual discussion between two men and moderately graphic scene depicting a violent rape.

Language 2

The adult language did not stand out as I was reading. Despite dealing with issue of racism and slavery I do not recall the use of any racially derogatory language nor do I recall much use of any adult language.

Violence 4

There are several beatings, including several violent whipping. People are kept in captivity and generally treated inhumanely. Violence is a central theme of the book.

Subsribe to Our Posts

If you enjoy our reviews, have each new review delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts


Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.