There's not a crime novelist around who writes cleaner prose than Laymon--and few who can jack up the tension the way he does. Yet despite his popularity overseas and a minor resurgence here (Bite, Forecasts, May 24), his readership has of late been limited in the States. This new novel, his first since The Midnight Tour, probably won't change that. Laymon likes to grasp readers by the neck with expert wordsmithery, then haul them into a diabolical situation. Here, foxy substitute teacher Sherry Gates goes searching for her boyfriend, who's late returning from a condom-run to a local L.A. market, and gets snatched by a homicidal, sex-crazed teen, Toby Bones. Many readers will find that too much of what ensues focuses, graphically, on Toby's violations of Sherry (and others), including rape, child molestation, slashings, beatings, shootings, a beheading and fratricidal murder by electric drill. Laymon's outrageousness is part of his appeal, but in his best books it's leavened by a gratifyingly sardonic sense of humor. That wickedness flashes at times here, as does a surprising tenderness: the series of scenes in which a naked Sherry is aided by two horny teen boys combines both qualities in a dashing display of emotionally complex writing. Once again, Laymon offers unexpected, well-rounded characters blown about in a narrative that moves like the wind. But the many scenes of sadistic torture cross the line from terror to lurid cruelty and will curdle the enjoyment of all but the most dedicated Laymon fans. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1999 Release date: 05/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 438 pages - 978-0-7472-5828-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 434 pages - 978-0-8439-5183-7
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