Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by Richard Laymon
Published by Leisure Books
When you pick up a book now-a-days, most folks are looking for a wild ride. In the horror genre, that means tense, sexy, bloody, but above all, a good story. Richard Laymon, who has been a staple of horror for many years, always provides just such a read, and his book, Flesh, certainly doesn't disappoint.
The book begins with a guy in a van on a little-used country back road trying to run down a college co-ed on a bicycle. It promptly moves from there to a couple who is refurbishing a restaurant, and the husband shooting, killing, and eating his wife. Yes, Flesh is a wild ride indeed. It follows a police officer, a few college students, and one seriously nasty worm that burrows into peoples' bodies and makes them do terrible things. If it sounds like Puppetmasters, it is, but without all this "take over the world" stuff. This worm only wants one thing: Blood.
Laymon vividly paints the scenery with a hand so deft that the reader doesn't really realize he's done it, but the pictures pop up in the reader's mind anyway. From the run-down restaurant to the boarding house where three of the story's main characters live, he has a knack for making the reader feel like he can not only see the place, but that he's been there.
Also well-done are Laymon's characters. The lead character, Jake Corey, works well as a cop who is out of his element and dealing with things that no academy trains for. But far from being the cliché, Corey develops with many facets to his character that is a testament to Laymon's writing skill. Similarly, the other lead, Alison, is a study of relationship-enduced angst. Even the secondary characters, from the smarmy ex-boyfriend Evan, the creepy weirdo Roland, to Alison's room-mates (one who is a couch-potato who doesn't like men, the other who likes men too much), come alive and seem as real as anyone in the reader's life. The dialogue doesn't suffer from stilted stiffness, and even the tertiary characters are well conceived.
If there are any complaints about Laymon's Flesh, one is also what makes his characters seem so believable and endearing. Throughout the story, the characters' internal monologues jump to so may wild conclusions that it feels like they all need to be on Prozac. Also, while almost everyone in the book seems to be preoccupied with sex, no one ever really gets down to actually having any. It's strange, how many paragraphs are dedicated to the set up and the description of what they'd like to happen, but those events never do. Usually because the person who wants it is dead and chewed to bits.
Flesh is fun and tense. It sucks the reader in from the first scene and doesn't let him go until the last word. If you like blood, sexy tension, and disgusting worms, this might very well be the book for you.
4 out of 5
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