Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Richard Laymon
Published by Leisure Books
One thing Richard Laymon was best known for in his stories was the ability he had to string along two seemingly separate plot elements for as long as he possible could before they connected with one another. Cuts is an extreme sample of that method, so much so that I began to wonder during the last 30 pages or so if we’d ever see it happening.
First we have the story of Albert Prince, a psychotic young man who decides to start killing at a very young age; 16, I believe it was. He basically befriends a girl, convinces them to take him to their house, then slowly tortures and eventually kills then over the course of days, sometimes weeks. It’s just the way he does things, and he never stops to consider why, only knowing that he enjoys doing it.
At the same time we follow the path of Lester, a very unhappy man who is married to an uppity bitch of a high school teacher who, unbeknownst to him, is in the midst of an affair with a fellow student. He’s miserable and a little pathetic, but as he learns the power of both drink and, as my friends call it, a piece of strange, he slowly becomes more and more empowered to make something of his life.
Now, the two storylines don’t really sound like they have anything in common, especially considering the first takes place in Chicago and the second in LA, but eventually Laymon finds a way to connect the two to one another. This connection, however, is so last-minute and almost contrived, it felt like he really just wanted to write a story about the drama in Lester’s life but knew the book wouldn’t sell without some kind of horror injected in, so he tied it up with another tale he had sitting unfinished some where in his drawer.
Whether or not it feels that way because of how long it takes to join the two plotlines or if that was the actual case is unknown now, but either way it doesn’t make Cuts a bad book at all. The methods Albert utilizes to snag his victims is pure Laymon through and through, complete with the sudden and shocking outbursts of violence. He even manages to twist it more with a very disgusting habit Albert has that isn’t exactly like having sex with his victims, but is in fact much, much worse. I’ll leave it up to your imagination, but a the title is a hint…
What really does work in Cuts are the relationships, though, something that was always one of the author’s strongest suits. He’s got a strong grasp on what makes the human condition so unique, and how we can relate to one another in both a positive and negative way. For this reason alone the non-horror bits are some of the best of the book; sometimes when we’re taken back to Albert’s ongoing swath of violence, it almost felt cheap compared to the other half of the story.
All in all Cuts was a good read, as immediately addictive as most of Laymon’s works are. Though it pales in comparison to Leisure’s last Laymon novel, “>Savage (review), it’s a much quicker and to-the-point tale, more indicative of Laymon’s later works. You really can’t go wrong with anything the man wrote save for some minor exceptions so be sure to check this one out now!!
3 out of 5
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