Richard Laymon, Author . Leisure $6.99 (333p) ISBN 978-0-8439-5103-5

Only three months after the posthumous release of Laymon's Darkness, Tell Us and nine months after the publication of his Night in the Lonesome October comes another gripper. This one is a curiosity, because it reads like two novellas stuck together, and the two "novellas" read like sketches for the preceding two books. One story line follows young hikers Rick and his girlfriend, Bert, who hook up with two young female backpackers in the California woods, then are menaced by three male hikers and preyed upon by a deepwoods madman and his wildcats. As always, Laymon does a good job of tracing the tensions—in Laymon's world, always spurred by lust—among the hikers, with Rick's backstory, involving a childhood camping trip during which his stepmother was raped and killed, adding an undercurrent of fear; but much of the violent action suffers from a gruesome sameness and moreover echoes the backwoods action of Darkness, Tell Us. More interesting is the interwoven second story line, about the adventures of independently wealthy Gillian O'Neill, whose passion in life is breaking into vacated homes and staying in them for a spell; Laymon fans will recall that a major character in Night in the Lonesome October shares a similar hobby. This time, Gillian breaks into the wrong home, because clues—S&M videos, clippings about missing young women—indicate it may be the abode of a serial killer. Although this patchwork offering has plenty of the teasing sex, outrageous violence and dawn-fresh writing that Laymon fans love, it lacks the magic of Laymon's best. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 343 pages - 978-1-4778-3710-8
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