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Blood Games

Novel by Richard Laymon (USA) 1992.

Following the mediocre Darkness, Tell Us, Laymon gives us another slick character-driven novel that just doesn't produce anything remotely original. Always happier with strong female characters, we start this one with five, college friends who went through numerous adventures together in their youth and meet up once a year to go through new ones. This year it's Helen's choice of locale, and being a horror fanatic she picks Totem Pole Lodge, a deserted hotel in the middle of nowhere that was home to a gruesome massacre a decade before. But is it as deserted as they think? Helen soon ends up dead in the shower and the other four stay around to take out the killer.

Any horror film fan will have seen slasher movies, usually American films where incredibly stupid college kids get picked off one by one by a mysterious maniac. This is the literary equivalent, slightly better only because of Laymon's mastery of character. The flashbacks to the girls' adventures in college turn out to be more interesting than the main story which is notably basic, unoriginal and cliched. Luckily this marks the end of Laymon's slack period; after six consecutive books that collectively average over a nine out of ten in my ratings system, he gives us four that average under seven. But his next book, Savage, probably his most interesting, finds him back on the sort of form that gave us Flesh, Midnight's Lair and Funland.


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