"Overnight" Book Review
Written by Tony Jones
Published by Unnerving
Written by Philip Fracassi
2018, 44 pages, Fiction
Released on July 16th, 2018
If you peg yourself as a big horror fan yet and have not tried the short fiction of Philip Fracassi, then you really are missing a trick. Over the last couple of years, he has become one of the most reliable writers of short story and novella length weird fiction in the business. Fracassi’s tales often layer supernatural elements upon what could be every day dramatizations; a few of my favourites include Shiloh (weird goings on during a major Civil War battle), Sacculina (barnacle type creatures invade a small fishing boat after a cagey family reunion) and Mother (a loveless marriage which will stop you from ever taking the plunge!). His tremendous collection of short stories Behold the Void is also a varied read and it is no surprise that big names in the horror genre often name-check him. So, Philip Fracassi has a lot of great stuff out there and his latest Overnight is a fine addition to his catalogue. Pulling in at a slight 44 pages, and published by Unnerving, Fracassi excels at crafting fiction of this length, however, it could also have been fleshed out into a fully-fledged novella such as those mentioned above.
Overnight is a great way of spending seventy slow-burning suspense filled minutes, deceptively easy to read but with moments of edgy threat lurking around the corner. The direction of the plot is cleverly shrouded plot and heads inevitably towards darkness and tragedy. A short of cash (and luck) security guard, Pete, is the night watchman of a Hollywood movie set. He has a dubious past which involves a life in gangs, but the night shift suits him and he can handle the long lonely nights. However, time can drag and Pete tries not to fall asleep in his car whilst waiting for his shift to end. He doesn’t like to admit it, but a small part of him gets a kick out of being associated with the razzmatazz of Hollywood, even from his lowly position.
Apart from his financial worries and a busted truck, Pete has a great life, with a loving daughter and wife waiting at home. But what if the chance to make some easy cash lands in his lap? How difficult would it be to turn down deceptively easy money? One particularly cold night a stranger appears on the set, he is seeking a movie prop connected to the famous female lead in the film in exchange for $200. Although morally conflicted and generally a very sympathetic character, Pete immediately dreams of seeing his daughter’s excited face after buying her a new computer with the easy money. You just know there will be a catch.
Before long things begin to escalate, as does the risk and the tension. Although there is very little action, this is a highly enjoyable story with decent twists, leading to a terrific ending which is shrouded in ambiguity. You could argue the final section does not gel with the previous thirty pages, but I like the change of pace and unexpectedness of it. Overall, it is more about mood than action and in a story of this length, is works well. For much of the story Fracassi keeps everything low key, deliberately avoiding the buzz of Hollywood, as Pete is at the bottom of the food chain after all. There may even be a nod to Poe’s Tell Tale Heart lurking in amongst the themes of guilt and greed. Highly recommended and an excellent entry point to the work of this author.
Overnight is available on Kindle Unlimited, or about $2.00 to buy. It’s a snip.