Thursday, 11 February 2016

Book review - Stuart Keane - 89


I received an advanced reader copy of Stuart Keane's latest offering; 89, we follow the story of a succesful author; Greg Irving. A man that has made himself succesful at writing by insisting on pushing himself, and by his own integrity. He has three simple rules that he abides by to remain productive;

Write 5000 words per day, minimum, no excuses.
To remain off the internet duting this time.
Always take Sunday's off as a break.

Greg is a man that likes to keep strange hours, preferring the solace that the early morning hours offer to write. He is a also a man addicted to coffee. I had to do a double take at one point at the beginning of this book, as I felt I may have been reading Keane's own memoirs..

The book begins with Greg just finishing up an all night writing shift, after hammering out 15,000 words in order to meet a tight writing deadline. With the work almost complete and ready to go, he makes the mistake of resting his eyes for a moment.

Three hours later, and Greg is awoken by a phone call from his agent; Sean, explaining that there has been a hitch with another author, who is meant to be  attending a convention in Sheffield the following day. Although originally protesting, he finds himself contractually bound to attend.

The only problem is that Greg, doesn't drive, so decides that he will take a National Express bus. Travelling through the night would allow for a quieter journey, allowing for some peace and quiet, a little reading, and maybe a nap.

Booking his tickets, he grabs some food at a restaurant near to the station, and the bus sets off at 10pm to arrive in Sheffield the following morning. A journey that consists of 89 miles of road. Having checked with the driver, only four people have booked for the trip - bliss. Armed with his iPod and Kindle, Gregg finds a good seat, and settles down ready for the long trip ahead.

Everything is going well, until another passenger; Jessica boards the bus, and takes the seat right next to him. From this point inwards, things start to get a little interesting.

The first thing that I will say about this book, is that it's unlike the violent, depraved horror stories that Keane's readers may have become accustomed to reading, and more like the style of his first book; The Customer is Always... However, in 89, he makes the reader feel just as uncomfortable, only in a totally different way.

The writing is typical of Keane; intense, atmospheric, dark and brooding. From the moment that Greg gets onto the bus, you know that something is going to happen, but you are unsure of what, and in which order it is going to be played out.

There are a couple of plot twists that are really quite clever, and work well with the story. Its a psychological thrill thats up there with the best of them. It's a slow burn to begin with, but all good things come to those who wait. 

Right up to the end, you're left guessing, up until the finale where once more, Keane can't resist throwing in just one last aspect for good measure.

There are certain authors, that I could identify their work without being told who it was written by. Stuart Keane is quickly   becoming one of those writers for me, the consistent level of quality and distinction of his work is phenomenal. There is nothing stopping him at the moment. He has proven that he can write shorts that scare the pants off people, he is capable of full length novels ranging from contemporary horror though to urban tales of revenge and heroics, and now comes back with a superbly taut thriller. Fans of writers such as James Patterson or Lee Child will lap this up.

My rating 5/5. A great read.


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