My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Isaac is a night auditor for the Goddamn Hotel, who, when not reading, watching porn or Netflix, or masturbating off the roof and onto the cars parked in the lot below, is dealing with surly, ignorant guests, deadbeat travelers, grifters, and the occasional corpse. After stealing a guest's lost wallet, and shocked by the disturbing owl-related attack of a co-worker, Isaac is caught up in some dark situations well and truly over his head. He also has a crush on a homeless bulimic girl.
By turns funny and macabre, dark and sentimental, The Nightly Disease is a crime story with shades of horror, wrapped in the sensibility of retail hell. Originally published by DarkFuse Magazine as an online serial, the story has now been collected in a limited edition hardcover with a forthcoming ebook due out in 2017.
As somebody who spent too many years working in retail, and even longer working with the public (with no end in sight...), Isaac is a guy I could relate to a little too well. He gets inundated with idiotic requests, selfish demands, and entitled assholes who think the concept of the customer is always right actually means something. I definitely got where Isaac was coming from, even as he goes off the deep end, and Max Booth III's writing is clearly drawn from a deep pool of real-life experiences. Booth, himself a hotel night auditor, no doubt has many more such stories saved for other books. Isaac's relationships with Kia, the bulimic homeless girl, hits a particularly strong chord and their relationship is explored rather tenderly. This unlikely romance is a terrific mirror for Isaac as he weighs who he is versus who he wants to be.
The Nightly Disease is a successful fusion of multiple genres told right from the ground-level of the eternal war between the public and the workers that serve them while struggling to maintain not only their integrity and individual identity, but their sanity, as well. Note that this last item is especially important and a more difficult struggle than most civilians realize. Booth captures that particular essence here especially well.
There's also a good deal of owls, which is clearly always a bonus. If Booth intended to drive his readers into seeing owls everywhere, it worked. This book got a little too into my head, but that's OK because at least now Owlbert and Chowls can keep me company.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title via NetGalley as part of the DarkFuse Readers Group.]
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