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Book Review: The Nightly Disease by Max Booth III

“The hotel is god. The hotel is god. The hotel is god.”

Isaac is a night auditor at a hotel in Texas. His job is to be certain the “Goddamn hotel”, as he refers to it, and its guests are well taken care of but all he would like is a few hours to be alone to watch Netflix, or possibly to sneak off to “service” himself from the rooftop down onto the cars of asshole guests parked below. The story spirals into a crazy conspiracy involving creepy owls, murder and hiding corpses, leaving the reader with a true sense of how insidious people can be.

Anyone who has ever worked a customer service job, especially after dark, becomes privy to some of the crappiest experiences and human beings known to man and unfortunately for Isaac that is a fact he can’t escape.

“The cycle will only end when I either quit or burn the fucking building to the ground.”

Isaac takes the reader along for a few shifts as he deals with management’s strict policies, which are eerily familiar to anyone who has ever had to read training manuals at most service jobs, dodging drunks and other assholes, plunging toilets and answering the late-night calls of unstable guests. The atmosphere is pretty depressing but the sarcastic mockery of the Goddamn hotel and everyone in it lightens the mood. There are even a few love interests for lonely Isaac in the form of bulimic girl, a homeless young woman who sneaks into the hotel to help herself to free breakfast before retreating into the restroom to throw it back up, and briefly with owl girl, a new employee at the hotel. Owl girl has an obsession with finding out where she can pet an owl, something that Isaac finds both strange and slightly endearing as he imagines her as a possible mate. This need to get close with the nocturnal bird leads to unexpected and bloody consequences for the new girl at the goddamn hotel and begins to shift the story in a way that feels like a black cloud settling over the already gloomy life of the night auditor.

The Nightly Disease is reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s film, Four Rooms, but it’s more twisted and brutal with healthy proportions of blood, gore, talking owl creatures and flaming sex toys. A lost wallet catapults the story onto a collision course with disaster, at times leaving you wondering if the narrator has been driven mad from the exhausting hours worked manning the front desk, plunging toilets and being handed bags of vomit. Isaac is drowning in depression and loneliness but fights back purely with the strength and smart mouth of a man that has had enough of the night shift and the insane people who frequent the goddamn hotel. The owls, mysterious and ominous creatures, carrying death in their wings, are an added touch of madness that propel the reader further into the unbelievably seedy world of the hospitality industry after sundown, climaxing in an absolutely entertaining bloodbath. Though this is pure fiction, there are parts of it that reads almost like a personal memoire of what it’s like to work in absolute hell.  The title, The Nightly Disease, fits perfectly with the scumbags Isaac encounters, the air of hopelessness surrounding him and the hotel which seems to be a beacon for the worst of society.

Max Booth III is an exceptional writer, penning some other really noteworthy reads such as Toxicity and How to Kidnap Strangers, his work for Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Dark Moon Digest bring together the best in the genre and garners a lot of praise. His eye for gathering great stories and writing his own has made him an asset to the readers looking for truly original tales.

The book is fast paced and really is hard to put down, trippy and gloomy, with a dash of dark humor. Though the story takes some wild turns, the voice of Isaac is relatable for those that have ever been doomed to work in the purgatory of hospitality jobs, keeping their faces split by fake smiles and where the walls seem to whisper, The hotel is god. The hotel is god. The hotel is god.

                                                                                                                                         MICHELLE GARZA

Publisher: Dark Fuse
eBook: (380pp)
Publication date: 18 December 2016

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