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One Rainy Night

Novel by Richard Laymon (USA) 1991.

Richard Laymon is not noted for crafting complex plot structures; he can provide solid and consistent entertainment and give us twists like few others, but his plots are simple and have never been as simple as here. The small town of Bixby is shocked by a murder: a young black student was tied to his school's goal posts and set on fire. His grandfather is naturally upset, but being some sort of a witchdoctor, he visits a black rain on the town which turns anyone it touches into a homicidal maniac.

James Herbert had yellow mist in The Fog, Richard Laymon has black rain in One Rainy Night; Herbert's chaos was caused by the military tinkering with chemical warfare, Laymon's by a curse; Herbert's book is naturally set in England, Laymon's equally naturally in the States. Otherwise there's little to differentiate the two. Both have little plot, Laymon's with the least; both are excuses for scene after scene of non-stop horror, Laymon's with the most: this is the nineties after all. Both handle characters well, both keep their story speeding along, both books sit well with the authors' respective styles. In this instance, The Fog is the better of the two, and not just because James Herbert wrote it back in 1975 and has since watched it become one of the standards in the splatter sub-genre. But both are worth the look.

Laymon fans may also notice a couple more in references to his previous work. I spotted a massacre outside a cinema showing Out are the Lights, and Miss Robin Travis from Funland playing on KLRZ. Maybe you can find more?


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