Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Lake by Richard Laymon

The Lake
by Richard Laymon
Leisure, 2004

I'd mostly given up on Laymon, but I ran across this as an audiobook at the library and figured I'd give it a try.  I don't learn very quickly.

A psycho killer who likes photography kills a prostitute.  Then young Deana is attacked while necking with her boyfriend.  He's killed, she escapes.

Deana's mom Leigh is sympathetic, as she had a boyfriend who was killed when she was her age.  Flashback time: Leigh is a hippie sent to Wisconsin to get away from bad influences.  She seduces Charlie, a simple teenage boy with an overprotective mother.  He dies falling over in an abandoned house.  That's the pay off for our 3-4 hour flashback.  Things do not pick up from here.

Leigh and Deana are attacked by a chef, Nelson, who Leigh fired from her restaurant.  They are then protected by a sexy cop Mace, who likes photography, just like our killer in the opening.  Leigh and Dean start dating, and he's into rough sex because he's a serial killer.  Laymon didn't bother to hide this fact, so why should I.

Deana gets over her dead boyfriend pretty quick and starts dating a bookstore owner, Warren.  This goes on for like another 6 hours.  Nothing happens.  An entire chapter is devoted to Deana getting back a knife and hat she dropped.  Nelson witnesses a woman getting eaten (?) by homeless people.  Deana is mobbed by elderly ladies from a rest home.  None of these things go anywhere.

Mace's former partner Maddie warns Deana that Mace is a psycho.  They break into his house and discover that Mace is Charlie's brother, and therefore Deana's uncle.  Mace finds them and admits to be a psycho.  They get police protection, and we get an entire chapter to the convoluted machinations Laymon dishes out to make sure Deana is alone so Mace can kidnap her.

Leigh and Maddie talk to a forensic psychologist who rehashes the self-evident reasons why Mace is a psycho.  Luckily, Warren's sister, Sheena, is psychic and knows where Mace is hiding Deana.  They rescue her without incident, and rescue the reader from any further possibility of horror or suspense.

The psychologist says Mace will go back to Wisconsin, and certainly won't try to kidnap Deana, so they leave Deana unprotected while Leigh, Maddie, and Sheena go to Wisconsin.  Leigh gets kidnapped, they confront Mace in the abandoned house where his brother dies, Sheena is Mace's brother, she fights him with karate, he falls through a hole in the floor and dies.

I guess he dies.  He was hanging onto the floor before dropping down the, what, three or four feet left to the basement?  We get a lengthy epilogue of how everyone's life is wonderful now, so we can say goodbye to these fully fleshed out characters who we've come to love so well.

This is reportedly Richard Laymon's worst book - I'm not reading all the others to find out.  There are inconsistencies with the setting.  At the end, the book says it was set in 1999.  Deana was 18 and conceived during the Johnson administration, placing this at 1987 at the latest.  Cops have pagers and Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard has to be special ordered at a brick and mortar bookstore.  But Fox Mulder is mentioned, and the characters watch Sleepy Hollow on TV.

My take - this was written in the 80s, shelved, and then half-assed updated and released after Laymon's death.

Available in ebook from Amazon

Click here to read a sample

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