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Out are the Lights

Novel by Richard Laymon (USA) 1982.

Every Friday night, the Haunted Palace puts on a double bill of horror films. Sandwiched in between the two is a short featuring Otto Schreck. The clever bit is that the Shreck segment is real: snuff films even though the audience don't realise it. But inevitably they are found out, and our heroine Connie, with the help of her new private investigator boyfriend, Pete, try to bring them to justice. But Connie's jealous ex, Dal, and his new flame, the beautiful but seriously twisted Elizabeth, have their own hidden agenda.

The title comes from Poe, but the text is classic Laymon. Not as dodgy as The Woods are Dark and written at a much more controlled pace (though still quick). The snuff sequences are fun - 'Schreck the Vampire', 'Schreck the Inquisitor', 'Schreck the Mad Doctor' etc. - and the various twists are unexpected and superbly handled. The heroine is deaf, which is weaved into the plot with superb results, and there's plenty of sex, including lesbianism and voyeurism, to go with the violence. Ten times better than The Woods are Dark in plot, just not so much bite.


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