Horror Fiction Review #14, August 2006)
Reprinted with permission of The Horror Fiction Review and Nick Cato.
EYES EVERYWHERE by Matthew Warner
(2006 Raw Dog Screaming Press / 232 pp. / hc)
Charlie Fields works a dead-end secretarial job in Washington D.C. After being accused of making a racist comment during a board meeting, he starts to believe they are watching his every move and listening to his every word…and thought. Mini-cameras and audio recording devices are all over his home and office, and family friend Philip Duke (the head of a large company) now has henchman out to get Charlie, his wife, and two young children. At least, this is what Charlie perceives, as his paranoia drives him to take drastic measures to protect his family.
Warner (author of the great short story collection Death Sentences) is in top form here as he paints a gripping portrait of a man suffering from intense schizophrenia. The pace of the story is very well done (although I thought the second section went on perhaps just a bit too long), building up to an absolutely thrilling climax, one of the best I’ve read since Barry Hoffman’s massively underrated psychological thriller, Born Bad. There’s also a unique element that makes this story work: Warner writes in third person narrative, yet every scene is told from Charlie’s viewpoint—causing the reader to feel the anxiety our protagonist is going through quite effectively in every single scene, hence (at times) making us route for him as he goes up against the evil system that only exists in his mind…now that’s talent, folks.
Topped off with a great afterword by Gary Braunbeck, Raw Dog Screaming Press has once again delivered a real keeper.