Author: Chris Maley
Subject: Dark Comedy
Release Date: Available Now
Reviewer: Valerie Porter
Chris Maley’s debut novel is a commentary on “an Unpaid Overtimer who snapped, then snapped out of it.” The book looks at the fear and anguish-filled decade of 2000 – 2010.
He writes, “Note to Old You. Some type of song exists somewhere. It’s about knowing what we know now. Today. Only back then, yesterday. When we weren’t as old as we are now.”
There’s promise here amongst the bitterness and frustration.
His main (nameless) character often speaks in one or two-word sentences. It feels choppy and disjointed, but gives insight to his personality. As the book opens, he’s holding his former boss, “Egan”, captive, and slowly bludgeoning him to death with a hammer. That’s clearly the “snapped” part.
It’s meant as a revenge story against people who get ahead in life and shouldn’t – on bosses who know less than their employees but always, despite harassment, rudeness and ignorance, come out on top. “This is just a business decision,” our character tells Egan, before landing the final blow. This line is meant to be funny however the scene is very gruesome and the language is not for the easily-shocked reader.
What follows after the murder is meant to comically show that he’s snapped out of it, but it’s debatable and all too farfetched for the average reader. The character atones for Egan’s murder by creating a company that will buy back his soul and provide college funds for his children. Maley attempts to convey a message while ranting against businessmen and politicians and the panic and doubt they create. The little detail of the murder is secondary.
In spite of the bizarre plot, he often hits the mark with biting accuracy, discussing, for example, the Y2K hysteria prior to the calendar rolling over to the year 2000. He also bitterly remembers days before planes flew into buildings, and says we’d have laughed at ourselves years ago for paying to drink water from a bottle.
There are elements of Mort Sahl and George Carlin brewing under the surface. Maley should perhaps try his hand at non-fiction in the form of social commentary. There will always be people dissatisfied with the world who will respond to sharp humor.
Maley is a good writer in search of a niche. Fearkiller just may not be it.