Home - The Last Page Bookshop - The Horror Reviews Mail Hal C F Astell - Site Map

Alarums

Novel by Richard Laymon (USA) 1993.

As mentioned frequently here, Richard Laymon has always been more at home with strong female characters. Obviously realising this he gives us Blood Games which features no fewer than five female leads. And after a decent return to form with Savage, he lapses back into literary sleepwalking with another average and uninspiring novel featuring two more of his strong female characters. Melanie Conway, a frail violinist (at least at the beginning of the novel) has a vision of her father dying. She persuades her boyfriend Bodie to travel with her to visit in person, and finds that she was right. But was the car that knocked him down aimed deliberately? As Melanie becomes increasingly unstable, it falls to Bodie and Melanie's beautiful sister Pen to find out.

Apart from strong female characters, Laymon is known for a wonderfully perverse streak. He can always be counted on to provide some sort of subversive or seriously dodgy imagery in his books, which is why Dan Marlowe accurately described him as "Stephen King without a conscience". In Alarums (the name comes from a poem by Henry Loveworth), he provides a short sub-plot in an obscene phone caller who is plaguing Pen. This is so well-conceived and executed, especially in comparison with the rest of the novel, that this sub-plot steals the show. Had Laymon used it more, he could well have produced a better novel. On a par only with his poorer efforts.


Home - The Last Page Bookshop - The Horror Reviews Mail Hal C F Astell - Site Map