Thursday, 15 May 2014

Book Review - 'The Customer is Always' by Stuart Keane


Horror has a long standing relationship with political and social metaphor.
Dating all the way back to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the genre has been used to shine a light on the issues of the day, be they racism, communism, the Vietnam conflict or any number of social ills that encroach on the growth of a society.
In more recent years, we’ve seen authors such as Bentley Little tackle the modern worlds woes, and even Stephen King has a thing or two to say about our society as a whole.
For every mindless slasher movie and/or novel, (and there is nothing wrong with that style either – I’m a huge fan), there will always be work out there that shows just how intelligent the genre can be, when its handled with the right care and skill.
Stuart Keane is one such writer.
His first release – the novella, ‘The Customer is Always...’, shows a refreshing sense of confidence and focus. The story itself, a simple game of cat and mouse, is elevated by the setting, the characters and the subtext, all of which is handled with zero pretention, and for maximum impact. Stuart – clearly a student of the late great Richard Laymon – has an keen sense for what makes horror such an entertaining and enthralling genre, and he understands that the story will hit all the harder if the reader can relate.
Many of us have worked in call centres – I myself have served my time caught amidst the snakes, backstabbers and power-trippers that make up that particular vipers nest – and we know the ropes. Stuart, dare I say, is no stranger to such a dehumanising environment.
His sharp, violent and telling novella details the workplace with relish, and no small amount of vitriol, but it never suffocates the sense of pace or the suspense. It’s a fast paced thriller that balances its subject matter with its tension, and builds rapidly to a surprisingly thoughtful climax.
‘The Customer is Always...’ is a fine example of indie-horror – thoughtful, tense, occasionally violent and even a little sad. Keane is off to a very strong start in his new career, and I’ll be watching closely. 

You can buy Stuart's debut release by clicking the link here and heading over to Amazon.