Thursday, October 23, 2008

Body Rides, Richard Laymon -- reviewer Lee Pletzers

Normally I drawl over a Richard Laymon novel, especially one over 400 pages, but I think after experiencing the first few pages that Body Rides offered that was not going to be a book that I would love. Normally any Laymon novel is a rocker and this book does have many awesome pages, yet sadly there are just as many non-awesome pages filling this book.

The story is about a guy called, Neal.

One night he is returning videos, taking short cuts on the way to the video store and worrying about the dark roads he is taking, he hears a woman scream. Now, it has been noted in earlier pages that Neal is not a brave man, he fears being shot. Yet, he stops next to a van and gets a gun from his glove compartment, gets out and crosses an old railway track and enters the woods. It is just before midnight.

He finds a woman tied to a tree, naked and being worked on by a hairy, bearded guy.

Neal shoots him. The guy goes down. Neal rescues the woman, her name is Elise and she's rich...and hot. He is offered a reward, what is hers is his as he saved her life. Even her body is his. But Neal is faithful to his girlfriend Martha or Marta. Elise then offers him an amazing bracelet. One kiss and he can enter other people. He can hear their thoughts and experience their feelings. The draw back is that one can not interact with the person they are riding. You're a passenger only.

Taking the bracelet, Neal heads home. On the way he decides to stop by the place where he killed Rasputin (the name he gives the killer) just to check it out. He expects cops and reporters and all that jazz, but finds no one. Even Rasputin's van is gone.

From here, the book kind of takes a long nose dive into second guessing and diversions. Although he does use the bracelet a lot. At the start of Neal's body-riding Laymon does introduce some weird and semi-normal characters before chucking us into the thoughts of Rasputin.

Quarter of the way through the book, Neal decides he needs to get away for a while and drives off. Buggered if I remember where he went. On the way he meets Sue and she becomes his lover (Sue is a very well thought out character). When he returns back to LA, both Sue and Martha (Marta) become his lovers and they decide what to do about Rasputin. There's a reward on his head and they intend to collect it.

Elise's husband lurks in the background. He has a part to play in all this as well.

Then Laymon commits mortal sin number one (in my book). Neal, the lead, is shot and killed via drive-by when he is confronting Rasputin. The book then turns to Martha (Marta) and Sue as they take the lead role.

I stopped reading. Sorry Mr. Laymon. Kill the lead, you kill the book. But that's just my impression. A close friend of mine said the book really takes off from there. I read a few pages, sighed and closed the book.

Bummer, huh?

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