In The Dark (Richard Laymon) Book Review

inthedarkJane is a new librarian in the sleepy town of Donnerville, a place where little happens. One day while working, Jane finds an envelope on her desk containing $50 and a note that reads “Look Homeward, Angel”. Directing Jane to a Thomas Wolfe novel of that name, she opens the book to find another envelope containing a $100 bill.  The note is signed by a person only known as “The Master of Games”.

Each time that Jane plays, the stakes get higher, and the games more and more dangerous. You will need a quiet environment to soak up the thrills without interruption. Imagine that you are a loner type who has let your figure go a bit flabby while you work at the local library. Suddenly one day you find an envelope with your name on it sitting on your chair. You open it to find a clue and a fifty dollar bill. What do you do? You stick a useless switchblade in the breast pocket of your blouse and start hunting for the next clue.
How much danger would you be willing to face for four hundred dollars? Eight hundred? Sixteen hundred? Are you willing to fight nasty animals? Creep about in spooky houses? Break and enter? How about murder? The game starts out with an envelope here or there with money in it, and a clue leading Jane to the next envelope with double the money.
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Her mysterious benefactor is not only adding a bit of excitement to her life,  but allows her a level of fantasy about a mysterious admirer who might really love her. But she has Brace – the silly man she met at the library… is he in on it? Can she trust him? Lucky for her she met him, because he seems to know the answers to all of MOG’s clues, and of course he has to be around for Jane to have all of the necessary Laymon-esque fantasies and sex scenes. This is a fast paced read. You won’t be able to guess any of the clues on your own because they all lead to places in the town that the story takes place in. It is fun to see just how far Jane is willing to go for such a pittance.
Jane is selfish, immature. Her panties are always sweaty, her nipples tend to always be sensitive, and she walks around with her boobs way out in front. She must do because they get injured about once every five pages or so. She’s also a ridiculously deep sleeper, without the common sense to change the locks on her doors after someone has been in and out of her house at will. Brace is a professor who is slapped, punched, cut, stalked and beaten for the love of a woman he has known for less than a week. If Jane had more common sense the book would have been far shorter after the graveyard incident. There was some gore, which is typical of Laymon, but it doesn’t come until the last 150 pages or so of the book. As always with a Laymon plot there is plenty of talk of women’s anatomy, rape, brutality, and lots of sex.
P1000040Laymon is in top form making the scenes very creepy. What he does a terrible job at is wrapping up the story at the end. When MOG is revealed there is no explanation in regards to the game, the selection of Jane, or anything. Still, even though the ending left a little to be desired, this was one of Laymon’s best books I have read so far. I recommend it to fans of horror who can enjoyably identify with a very naïve heroine, with lots of talk about panties and breast sweat. I loved it and never thought of giving up on the story. You may do as well.
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