Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Richard Laymon
Published by Leisure Books
Laymon’s Beast House stories sure are an interesting lot; while most writers will return to the same haunted house again and again or the same strange small town, Laymon had a tale about creatures from an island in the middle of nowhere who managed to find their way to California, make women fall in love with them (usually after sexually assaulting them), and would randomly slaughter people they found in their house.
Midnight Tour was the last of the Beast House books (following The Cellar and Beast House), it’s also the longest and, at times, the most difficult to get through because for so very long, seemingly nothing happens at all. Leisure shows once and for all that they’re not concerned with page length with Midnight Tour; it comes it at just under 600 pages, with a very small typeset, making this the biggest novel they’ve released to date.
The story picks both immediately after the events of Beast House and almost 20 years later, with two congruent story lines going on throughout; one is about a girl named Sandy who managed to escape the slaughter that ended the last book with her beast son, Eric, and is living in solitude in the woods outside of Malacasa Point, CA. A director who wants to make a movie about the events tries to assault her and she ends up killing him, which puts her and Eric on the run, both to live a very strange life of murder and deceit, though usually for good reason.
The other tale is set in 1997, when Beast House is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country. The tour through the house is now fully automated with tape players that tell the story of all the murders that occurred there. There is also a special, adults-only Midnight Tour that tells even more of the gruesome details and shows more of the house. This plot line follows a new girl who’s come to town and how she finds love and other such nonsense, not without getting naked a time or two, as well as a man who’s been obsessed with Beast House forever and what goes down when he finally gets to take the Midnight Tour.
Actually, there are quite a few plotlines running throughout Midnight Tour and after about page 300, you’re probably going to wonder where they’re all leading. There is a relatively satisfying resolution to it all, but it just takes so damn long to get there that you almost can’t appreciate it when it does come around.
One thing that will keep you going, though, are the seemingly random acts of violence that appear throughout the book. That’s the one thing you learn if you’ve read enough Laymon; his characters are never what they seem and they’re always capable of doing something horrible when you least expect it. So when you have a book as long as this, there are a lot of chances for horrible things to happen, which will keep your rapt attention for the book’s entire length.
Laymon does go to one extreme here that was very hard to get around; in one scene some peeping toms are spying on a girl in her hot tub, who is soon joined by two more beautiful women, all three of whom decide they need to be naked. It’s so unrealistic that the only thing that would’ve made it completely eye rolling is if they had all started making out, but their sudden decision to search the bushes with handguns while still in the buff is almost as bad. You kind of start getting the feeling you’re reading the work of a dirty old man, and it’s a bit creepy.
But really, there’s nothing too negative you can say about any of Laymon’s work; he was an author that had a real way of keeping his characters (more or less) realistic and keep readers on the edge of their seat for the entire book. Midnight Tour is no different, it’s just that the edge becomes more and more uncomfortable the longer you sit on it and at 600 pages, you’ll be there for a while.
3 out of 5
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