Written by Richard Laymon
Published by Leisure Books
Laymon is truly a master of his craft, and we’re all lucky to have him.
Originally published back in the late 90’s, Leisure continues their trend of putting out the best novels horror has to offer in mass market paperbacks with Come Out Tonight, probably one of Laymon’s most straight-forwardly twisted novels in his rather large cannon.
The Santa Ana winds are blowing across Los Angeles, and 25 year old Sherry has finally decided to let her boyfriend, Duane, have sex with her. The problem is the only condom they have breaks prematurely, so Duane does what any guy would do and jumps in his van, bound for local convenience store to make sure the magic can happen. Problem is, it’s only a 20-minute trip, and after waiting for almost an hour for him to return, Sherry starts to worry. When she hears what might be a car backfiring, or a car door slamming, but is most likely a gunshot, she decides to head out on foot to find him. Big mistake.
She runs into one of her students, an overweight 18 year old named Toby Bones. He offers his car to help look for her missing man, at first coming across and gentle and a bit unsure of himself with such a pretty girl so close to him. When the search turns up nothing, as Toby knew it would, he suddenly starts making some very unconventional moves on Sherry, namely punching her in the side of the head and gyrating until climax while she’s semi-conscious in his lap.
And that’s only the beginnings of Sherry’s problems. When she tries to escape from Toby one to many times he crosses the line and ends up killing her, then sets out to make good on his promise of tracking down her family and making her younger sister suffer far worse than she did. The only problem is Sherry isn’t dead, and now she’s got two new friends who can only think on one thing; revenge.
Laymon’s got a real skill for making the reader nice and comfortable before unleashing, usually quite unexpectedly, some horrific violence against his main characters. There’s always a hint of something off before Toby make his first move, but to be honest the extremity and suddenness of the violence caught off guard in a really good way. I shut the book smiling when I realized just how sick Laymon was going to be this time out, and didn’t stop grinning maliciously until the end.
Is that wrong? Probably. But hey, it’s what I do.
That being said, there were some minor issues I had with the overall story. For one Laymon never really gives us a lot of insight into Sherry’s mind during the ordeal. We see it all from her perspective and while at times you really can feel how terrified she is, more often than not she just seems way too accepting of the entire thing. Of course, that could very easily be passed off as a defense mechanism, and to be honest things move along so quickly for the first half that you barely have time to notice. It’s only when the book switches perspective, which keep in mind it really doesn’t do until about half way through so when it happens, it’s quite a jolt, that you have some time to reflect.
That coupled with the way she acts when two teenage boys find her is enough to make you wonder if maybe there’s not something wrong with this girls’ head. After what she’d been through the previous night, you’d think she’d want nothing to do with the male gender for a while, but instead she’s very open with the boys, even though she can’t be sure they’re not more dangerous than Toby. Again it’s not a huge issue, but it seemed a tad unrealistic.
The only other problem I had was with the very last chapter; as Laymon decided to end the whole thing on a positively cheesy note, but saying any more will be revealing some pretty major spoilers so I’ll keep it to myself.
Come Out Tonight is definitely an example of Richard Laymon at his finest, so it comes highly recommended. My only advice is to go in with an open mind and let Laymon’s imagination take you where it will. It’s a great ride!
4 out of 5
Discuss Come Out Tonight in our forums!