Triage by Richard Laymon, Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum Publisher: Leisure Books
Copyright © 2001 by Matt Johnson
Triage © 2001 by Richard Laymon
In the Year of Our Lord 2202 © 2001 by Edward Lee
Sheep Meadow Story © 2001 by Dallas Mayr
Review © 2008 by Lee Pletzers
This book is 3 novellas based on one idea. The idea: a mystery person comes into a place, hell bent on killing someone who has no idea why they’re being targeted or who the killer is.
Richard Laymon’s story: Triage starts us off and it is a rip-roar of a story. It starts off with a bang and never lets go. It is a super fast read and has some surprises in it. This is Laymon going hell for leather and ripping your eyeballs out. It is 90+ pages and I finished it in one sitting.
Laymon’s story keeps the premise of the killer chasing Sharon, an office worker. She gets a phone call. The caller says: “I’m going to get you.” “I’m going to get you now, Sharon.” He hangs up the phone. Next second a man walks in carrying a pump action shotgun, he asks for Sharon. The receptionist points her out. He says, “Thank you.” And he blows her brains out. All this on page 3.
I would love to tell you about this fantastic story but letting even a little bit out will dull the read. I can say that you will be smiling at the end of it. This story is a kicker as well worth the price of the book alone. The twist is a kicker as well, although a little blunt. Other reviewers claim this is Laymon’s weakest story to date. They are wrong.
I wish I could say the same for Edward Lee’s story: In the year of our Lord 2202. It starts off the same, a girl getting a call from someone wanting to kill her and that person enters the area a moment later. Apart from that, the rest of the novella is an SF story in the vein of a mystery.
This Sharon is a nun, or somehow in the nunnery and she is a virgin. A big point is made about this. Lee also goes on and on and on filling pages with unneeded padding. I still have no idea why the guy in the beginning tried to kill Sharon. The rest of the story is quite neat if you like mysteries.
The story is about a spaceship on a secret mission. Apparently no one knows about this mission thinking it is just a standard run. (The future Lee painted is awesome. Damn awesome. Buy the book just for this vision of the future.) The guy who tried to kill Sharon is killed and soon revealed to be from a secret sect called ‘Red Sect’; a group that tortures and kills without reason. Sharon becomes fascinated with learning more about this group and their god, and she tries to learn all she can, but the information is blocked or deleted. The only source of info she has is in the soldier who killed the guy.
But why would a ‘Red Sect’ member be on board? Because it is not the usual run-of-the-mill trip. This is revealed when the ship stops and all but a few keys personnel are ordered off.
What’s the secret mission? Why, Man has finally found the location of Heaven. And it’s time they paid a visit.
Saying more would almost destroy the wonderful ending.
The third novella in this is book is: Sheep meadow story by Jack Ketchum (writing as Jerzy Livingston). It starts off the same, only the main character’s name is Carla, not Sharon. And I may be wrong, but I think Jack just added this scene to conform to the book’s main theme, ‘cause the story goes way out of whack with the rest of the book.
Jack though, is a pretty good writer and I polished off his story in a couple of hours. It is only 43 pages long.
This story is about a guy who works for an agency as a reader and he gets 10% of the price writers pay to have their work evaluated. He is not happy. Lost his wife, lives off booze and cigarettes, has no direction in life, early fifties and dreams of being a writer. (Loved the Maxwell Perkins mention. Nice one.)
Stroup is going through the motions of life. He has a favourite bar, a couple of girlfriends (one who dumps him for another guy), a friend he doesn’t like who tells constant jokes and a bar tender he’d like to shag but that ain’t ever going to happen. Then his ex calls and demands he pay her the money he owes. He tells her to fuck off and she sends him a summons to appear in court. On top of that he loses his job. He’s not fired – he’s ‘Downsized’.
Still, it’s not all bad. He does have a .38 revolver with a full chamber…and he knows where his ex-wife is enjoying the sunny day…
All in all, this tiny anthology of 310 pages is a fast read. I feel only Laymon stayed true to the theme and in doing so, he created one of his best stories I’ve read since Island. I wish Edward Lee’s story was horror more than mystery as he is pretty good with the blood and guts genre. And Jack Ketchum…I’ve said all I can say. I like his writing in this story, and it’s the first bit of his writing that I’ve read.
Three different novellas, all based on one premise.
Sounds like a themed book to me, but it isn’t and that is mentioned on the back cover and in the introduction by Matt Johnson. For some reason I thought they were all themed, but apart from a killer and a girl, they have little to no resemblance to each other. Still, this is a good book to pass four afternoons enjoying.