Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beware - Richard Laymon

This is Laymon's most recent re-release (as of Nov 08). This feature story is shorter than most standard Leisure books, coming in at about 266 pages. The rest of the book is a teaser for "Dark Mountain" which is being re-released in March of 2009. I am not sure if this original story was published while he was alive or if it was one of the many that was dug out of some mysterious safe and published after his death.

Short Summary: Lacey is a reporter for the local paper in a small town. When something strange begins happening at the market she, along with several other townsfolk go to investigate. What they first assume to be vandalism quickly escalates into murder and rape, with a trail of bodies piling up and no sign of a killer anywhere. When things get even worse for Lacey, she goes on the run...

Though the book started out okay, by the time I got to the end, I was ready to put it down. I quite enjoyed the opening, when I believed our problem to be a malevolent ghost. Then they brought in the voodoo and I sort of nodded and thought, okay a little voodoo can cause the ghosts, I can live with that. But then we crossed the line and just kept on going... when the reality of what was being sold to me came about... I was pretty well beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief. You can add too much fantastical crap into one novel and end up with garbage. I won't say this became utter trash, but I really wasn't happy with the outcome. I remember reading in a screenwriting group that you can only have 1 truly magical bit in a story and have people buy it... that you can have aliens, or you can have mermaids, but you cant have aliens AND mermaids or the audience won't remember what they've seen. That's pretty much where this novel failed to me. We had Voodoo cults/government groups? We have sacrifices, we have invisible people, we have random good guys who pop up out of nowhere and just happen to know a guy already working on the case, there is just too much for me to have to choke down to believe it...

I'm not sure where in the scheme of things Laymon wrote this novel, it's not his best and it's not his worst. There are plenty of rapes, and naked women... not so much gore as one might expect with a serial killer/rapist and a handful of Voodoo sacrifices. Mostly we just have a sadistic rapist and a bunch of naked women and a whole lot of running around. I think what disappointed me was that I was really excited about the beginning when I thought it was going to be a ghost story. Now I have read the original Jules Verne book that he took this idea from, and I have to say... that Laymon's treatment really didn't impress me at all.

His characters are still stiff and unbelievably one sided. The woman does a lot of running, screaming, trying to fight back, and getting raped anyway. The men are either complete dolts, or they are sadistic rapist murderers. And when Scott and his buddy come onto the scene, I couldn't help but roll my eyes and think "how convenient." In fact I found myself thinking that quite a bit through this book. Still, it's only 266 pages and if you are a Laymon fan, you won't be able to get your fix again until March of 09. For rabid Laymon fans, I would say go pick this up and get your fix. For first time Laymon readers, I would start somewhere else because this is nowhere near one of his best works.


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