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I am a big fan of Richard Laymon. In fact I don't think there has been a book of his I have disliked so far. Needless to say this is going to be a favourable book in my opinion
Fiends is of a different style to Laymon's normal writing. This is a collection of short stories, some weirder than others, and some are also longer than others. When picking up a Richard Laymon book, especially if ordering from online you should watch that it's not another novel previously published under a different name. Also when buying a collection of short stories as this one is you need to make sure the short story itself hasn't been published as a novelette and you find you already have it. I don't want to give away the entire plots, just giving you a general gist of what you will be reading. ^^^FIENDS^^^
This is one of the longest of the stories in the book. Focusing on a girl called Marty, now in her twenties. When she was a teenager, she was raped in her own house. For some strange reason she still lives in the house with her parents, and the man is out of prison and out to get Marty. Revenge comes from Willy the rapist in bold form. He follows Marty and her boyfriend Dan everywhere, not scared of being seen by them. Marty appears scared but still goes out at night on her own etc. Obviously Marty has to be left alone to increase suspense.
I found the plot slightly bizarre to say the least. Now I know you shouldn't have to run and hide away etc, but from the way Marty was acting in the story, she was almost too brash in her actions. I personally would still insist on living a normal life etc, but I would be more careful in my day to day life.
A bizarre story to say the least. This is one of the shorter ones and focuses on a man with a litter of kittens. Little Monica invites herself into Mr Bishop's house, demanding one of the kittens. He is only too glad to give them away, but Monica has other ideas about which kitten she wants. Mr Bishop finds himself feeling very vulnerable in his own home with a strange child making demands on him. All sorts of precarious situations and allegations could arise from this story had Laymon taken it a different way.
A gripping tale here with a good twist at the end. I hate guessing the twist before I've read the entire story. I also found the plot slightly far fetched, especially in the sense of a lone girl entering a stranger's house to gain a new pet. The plot worked well for Laymon however.
Byron is an
usher. After spotting a trail of blood on the pavement one night after finishing work, he decides to follow it to see what happened. Wishing for a damsel in distress, he trails through various parts of the town he lives in, some dodgier than others. Knowing he should turn back and save himself from any dangers that may lie ahead, he cannot leave his damsel. Needless to say things don't turn out they way he'd hoped.
This was a typical audience shouting at the book "Don't go there you idiot, go back home". You know the sort I mean. It wasn't a great original plot outline, but still gripped me enough to care about what happened to Byron in the end.
It follows the story of a criminal hitchhiking through the desert. A lone woman stops to pick him up, telling him she is collecting cacti from the desert for her garden, and would he help dig them up. One thing leads to another, he kills her, and then he gets a cacti needle in the tyre on his way out of the desert. When the policeman comes by, he finds the woman's husband in the trunk and get's arrested for murder.
-My take- I found this one very predictable. I picked the right ending on the second page. That doesn't mean I didn't like the story, just that I feel it's been done many times before in one way or form.
This one I found slightly weird, and not sure I understood it properly the first time I read it. It follows the story of Allan. He likes going to midnight showings of horror movies every Saturday night. He rarely takes his car, therefore putting himself in dangerous predicaments wandering the streets in the middle of the night. Along the story he meets a masked lady. Intrigued by her he is desperate to see her again, but she always runs away and wont ever show her face. One night he manages to trail after her and they end up sleeping together. That was all very easy to follow but she still doesn't show her face to start with, and he thinks he's worked out who his mysterious lady is.
This one I found slightly weird, and not sure I understood it properly the first time I read it. The ending is not what I expected it to be, however the midnight movie showings, and walking through the streets is something Laymon does quite a lot in his books. After reading the story twice I followed it easily.
A private investigator down on his luck stumbles across a rich old lady hiring him, as she fears someone is poisoning her, for her money. There are only a few suspects as all the family and spouses live in a large mansion. Duke goes off hot on the trail to catch the poisoner, and comes up with a great plan.
This story made me laught, and it's always nice to get a bit of humour going on in the middle of things. Duke did manage to catch the culprit after a few hiccups. This was a nice piece of light reading.
Kim is stuck in a launderette late at night. She knows it's not a good idea to go there at night, but it takes less time. There is a killer on the loose and a man is sat outside the launderette watching her. She doesn't know what to do. Should she ask the other gentleman in the launderette to walk her to her car? Kim ends up on a very distressing journey. Great twist to this one.
Again the scenario has been done many times before, putting a lone woman in a potentially dangerous situation at midnight. Still it managed to get my attention right to the end.
Charles works in a library along with Lynn. They are both students, and Charles can't keep his eyes off Lynn, but knows she is out of his league. Charles has a problem with women. He likes to cut them. He would love to get his hands on Lynn but he thinks she is special and wouldn't want to harm her. Can he manage it? When Lynn starts coming on to Charles one night he does all he can to resist, knowing what would happen if he doesn't. Strange things happen and the ending knocked me for six. I certainly wasn't expecting it.
One of the better stories in the book, all due to the ending. I like it when I gasp out loud or face an ending that makes me appreciate spending time reading the story.
^^^OUT OF THE WOODS^^^
Sadie and her partner are camping in the woods, when a madman confronts them with a machete. Sadie has disappeared and the madman is insisting he has her tied up somewhere and will kill her if he doesn't get what he wants. Needless to say all is not as expected. This is quite a good twist, and the story was only a couple of pages long, so once again Laymon writes well.
As it was a very short story, I don't feel it should have been included in the book. The plot outline again is something Laymon focuses on in a lot of his novels, the camping trips with disaster attached to them.
Dead women keep appearing in Charlie's back garden. They make themselves at home by sitting in his deckchairs. Charlie is at a loss as to why they appear in his garden and who is putting them there, so one night he keeps watch to catch the culprit. An easy target to be caught, and the reasoning the murderer gives is hilarious. Another short one, but worth the read.
Not a lot to this one, but as the ending was humorous, it was worth the read.
This one took quite a bit of concentration on my part. The general jist of the story is about a bunch of men who capture women travelling to different places and take them back to their run down castle. Certain women are deemed "special" and are given their own room. The purpose of these women's existence is to breed, but the lucky man who caught her gets priority over her. If a woman isn't "special" then she is placed into a dungeon and any of the men can take their turn until the women are killed off and then eaten. The women revolt thankfully and we see them turn the tables on the men. I found this very strange, however a different read.
This reminded me again a lot of what Laymon writes about elsewhere. He does it good however and it was nice to see the bad guys being beaten for a change.
Poor old Joyce, she is no longer with us in spirit. Her body however stays with her poor widower under the bed. Darren the widower, neglected to tell his new, living wife of his little secret under the bed until after their honeymoon.
Oh this was a bizarre story. How would anyone get away with keeping a corpse under the bed? How would someone else just not notice it? All of this was beyond my comprehension, but it was certainly a different plot outline.
^^^A GOOD SECRET PLACE^^^
What a twist this story had to it. Jim and Rick are best of friends. They are about 12 and do everything together. A kid called George moves into the neighbourhood and wants to be friends, but they don't want to know. They keep leaving him in places and not turning up, etc. George doesn't get the hint however, and one night Jim and Rick have had enough. George has spoiled their plans to go and watch through the windows of a girl's slumber party going on in their town. They don't want to take George with them but he insists, bribing them with wine from his Dad's cellar. Instead of taking him, Rick and Jim decide to take him to a deserted tunnel and tie him up. On their return, they realise he's been beaten up. A big shock ensues, and a very strange ending that I'm sure would never happen in real life in any circumstance, but I didn't pick up on the twist, so it was a good story.
This is the collection of stories in Fiends. I didn't realise it was short stories when I bought the book, but it was a very enjoyable read. All of these stories have also been published in various magazines throughout the years, except Fiends, which is first, published in this book, hence the title. Published in 1996. This book can also be found available as a double novel along with Bite, another great one from Richard laymon.