Friday, January 30, 2009

The Nightrunners

The first long-form work by Joe Lansdale I ever read was The Nightrunners, way back in the 80s. I recently read it again, and was pleased with how well it has held up.

The basic plot outline is somewhat similar to Straw Dogs (almost a year into this blog, and I'd never mentioned Straw Dogs, now twice in one day). A gang of truly degenerate teens rapes and brutalizes a schoolteacher. After her testimony puts the gang leader away (and he dies in jail), the rest of the crew follows the victim and her husband to a secluded getaway cabin to enact their revenge. The somewhat pacifist husband has to turn to violence to defend his wife and himself.

The story diverges due to the fact that the gang is really led by a possessing demon called the God of the Razor, who spurs the teens on to violence. The God of the Razor would be one of Lansdale’s most enduring creations in the horror field, recurring in subsequent stories and one themed anthology.

This is a very visceral novel, with scenes of extreme violence. The writing style is perhaps a little less fluid than Lansdale’s later work, but the energy and emotional impact is at its peak.It is available in a limited edition hardcover called The God of the Razor, or you can find a used paperback floating around.

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