Zakk reviews 89 by Stuart Keane

The Eyes of Madness presents “Simple reviews from a simple reader…”

Zakk reviews “89” by Stuart Keane. 83 pages published by Stuart Keane.

“I can’t imagine anything better than reading a book; four hundred pages that immerse you in a complex imaginary world for multiple hours, a world that takes you away from the mundane routine of existence. Nothing else exists like it. Not films or video games. Nothing. It’s a true wonderment to the human mind, and the creative arts.”


Hard working, passionate and talented, Greg Irving is on the verge of becoming a best-selling author. When his agent requires him to step in as a last-minute replacement for a fellow writer at a lucrative book convention in Sheffield, Greg reluctantly accepts. With only hours to get there, he boards a red-eye coach for the 89-mile trip. With nine hours ahead of him, solitude and silence his only companions, he settles in for the overnight journey.

However, the journey doesn’t go according to plan. After a few miles, a woman boards the bus and, despite the coach being empty, takes the seat next to Greg. The woman is a self-proclaimed fan, a bookworm, someone who has followed his work since the early days. Initially flattered by the attention, Greg soon becomes aware of the woman’s alternative agenda, one that slowly twists casual conversation into something a lot more sinister…

“‘You think it’s coincidence that I’m on this coach with you?’

Greg said nothing.

She chuckled. ‘What are the odds of one of your fans bumping into you on a coach to the middle of nowhere, and a night trip at that?’

He shook his head. ‘This isn’t funny.’

Jessica snorted. ‘I never said it was.’

89 is tightly wound one sitting read about fanaticism and fame… Or is it? Greg, our main character, is not a very likable fellow, intentionally. All about his craft and the regulated bubble he’s constructed around himself, he seems to have little regard for others.

Which plays out well he Greg is removed from his comfort zone. His interactions with others are genuinely awkward. And when Jessica enters the game civility deconstructs quickly and harshly. She has a nice multi-layered psychosis thing going on. Her faux intentions, actual intentions, and subconscious intentions clash head on.

The back-and-fourth between Greg and Jessica is fun in a sadistic way, as they size each other up before staking their claim. And when the endgame drops it does so in spectacular fashion. Messy, intense, exciting.

I had a great time with this read, and actually would have liked it to have been a bit longer. I dug both main characters and a bit more cat and mouse would have been great. As it is, 89 is an effective thriller.

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around a proposed 9 hour eta for an 89 mile bus trip. Maybe that’s my California showing.

“I just got sixty percent. See what happens when you fuck me about?”

Overall score: 4/ 5

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

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