Thursday, June 19, 2008

One Rainy Night

One of the tragedies of the horror field was the untimely death of Richard Laymon. The one bright spot is he was so prolific, all but the most fervent fans can still discover unread books. One of those, to me, was One Rainy Night.

Laymon was one of those authors that never got his just recognition. Although extremely popular in the rest of the English-speaking world, only about half of his forty novels had been published in the U.S. before his untimely death of a heart attack at 53, and most if not all of those were paperback originals. Still, if you like horror novels and haven’t tried Laymon. You are in for a treat. His books have been called “Stephen King without a conscience”. Leisure’s horror line seems to be in the process of bringing most if not all of his books into print in the U.S.

One Rainy Night is not one of his best, but is a solidly entertaining book. Think of it as a written version of a B movie. In a small town, a young black man is abducted by three white thugs for the crime of dating a white girl. He is tortured, then tied to the goalposts on the football field and burned to death. The next night, an inexplicable black rain begins to fall on the town. Everyone who is caught into it is transformed into a homicidal maniac. The bulk of the book is three parallel stories of people trying to survive and figure out what’s going on. It is a not-stop action ride.

The chief flaws, in my opinion, of the book are the ending, where a sudden answer is presented and Boom! it’s over, and a change in the effect of the rain at the end (when the heroes get infected, they are able to control themselves for no good reason). Still, I enjoyed the book. Laymon rarely disappoints.

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