4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirteen short stories delivering classic Laymon horror
First published back in 1997 by Headline Book Publishing, `Fiends' has already seen itself reprinted a few times. The book is a collection of Laymon's short stories spanning from 1970 to 1997. This is not in any way a complete collection, but a selected choice of his shorts.
The book includes a very comical five page introduction from the fellow horror author...
Published on 17 Mar 2009 by Chris Hall
3.0 out of 5 stars A good collection!
I'm a big fan of Richard Laymon's, so perhaps my expectations were a bit high. The stories are all entertaining, but nothing that blew me away like his other works. Well worth reading for all fans, just not his usual brilliance.
Published 9 months ago by john
Most Helpful First | Newest First
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirteen short stories delivering classic Laymon horror,
This review is from: Fiends (Paperback)First published back in 1997 by Headline Book Publishing, `Fiends' has already seen itself reprinted a few times. The book is a collection of Laymon's short stories spanning from 1970 to 1997. This is not in any way a complete collection, but a selected choice of his shorts.
The book includes a very comical five page introduction from the fellow horror author and personal friend of Laymon, Dean Koontz. This short introduction gives the reader a glimpse into the family life of Laymon from behind the eyes of a close friend. Koontz also delivers credit towards Laymon's unique writing ability on numerous occasions within the introduction, which is praise indeed coming from such a well respected author of this very competitive genre. Koontz's introduction is a joy in itself to read, with moments of comedy that are sure to make you laugh out loud.
The book kicks off with the first short story entitled `Fiends' that was written for this very collection, and as such, this is its first published appearance. The tale is by far and away the longest short to be included in this compilation, running for a total of 112 pages. Not entirely a new scenario for Laymon to write about, the tale involves the kidnap, rape and murder of teenage girls who find themselves at the hands of a sociopathic killer. The title of the short is taken from the stories theme, whereby the sociopathic male characters are referred to as `fiends' from early on within the tale. The short follows a few loose storylines and sub plots, which eventually inter-weave until the final and somewhat satisfying conclusion. `Fiends' is a great start to this collection and if you're new to Laymon's work, then it would form a very good first choice to dip your toe into.
Next up is the 12 page short story entitled `Kitty Litter' which was first published back in 1992 for the collection of short stories by various authors entitled `Cat Crimes II'. This humorously written piece of black comedy involves the simple premise of the likeable character named Mr Bishop, who is attempting to give away a litter of kittens for free to good homes. We join the tale when the over-the-top spoilt brat of a girl named Monica, approaches Bishop wanting one of the kittens. She picks out one and a paranormal story regarding that particular feline unfolds, which ultimately ends with a very satisfying conclusion to the whole episode. As is so often the case, Laymon writes what the reader is thinking, without a thought for social morality. After all, it's just a story!
`The Bleeder' comes next, which takes the reader on a mini 16 page adventure as we follow the character of Byron who notices small drops of blood splashed on the pavement one night and decides to follow them, to locate the source. The short is written from Byron's perspective allowing Laymon to delve into the character's thoughts as he pursues this bleeder. Obviously, being a piece of Laymon's work, the story ends in a dark and twisted fashion. For sheer imagination alone, this simple storyline is an absolute pleasure to read and has echoes of Clive Barker's early Books of Blood era. The short was originally published for the winter of 1989 edition of the publication `New Blood'
Following on as one would a trail of blood, we have the very short tale entitled `Desert Pickup'. This 8 page story takes on the simple idea that people are not always as they may first appear. Indeed, this lack of trust for others is somewhat of a recurring theme within Laymon's work. The novel squeezes in a couple of twists to the short and sweet storyline, ending with a slightly predictable but humorously satisfying conclusion. This short story was actually Laymon's first ever professional sale and was published in the November 1970 edition of `Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine'.
`The Mask' is the next short story. This 24 page tale was first published in 1993 within Laymon's limited edition short story collection `A Good, Secret Place'. This surprising story takes a look at the life of the character Allan Hunter when he develops an obsession with a masked woman he encounters one dark night, on the way back from the cinema. Hunter is an obsessive horror fanatic which, like with the character of Larry Dunbar from Laymon's 1990 novel `The Stake', is obviously based on Laymon himself. The short builds up a good tension until the dramatic and clever twist at the tales conclusion.
The next short is a tale simply titled `Eats'. This story was first published for the July 1985 issue of `Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine'. The tale was later reprinted for the 1988 book `The Second Black Lizard Anthology of Crime', which was then followed by the re-working of the tale as a cartoon for the 1989 publication `The Bank Street Book of Mystery'. The 12 page short is a murder-mystery style affair with a strong black-comedy theme running through it. The main character is a private detective who is employed by a very wealthy old woman to find out if a member of her family is trying to poison her. The conclusion is highly amusing, bringing about a great glimpse into Laymon's humorous nature.
Taking the next slot in this collection is the short entitled `The Hunt'. This 20 page tale was originally published back in 1989 for the compilation book containing tales of terror and suspense entitled `Stalkers'. The short story revolves around a young girl (isn't it always in Laymon's work) who is kidnapped and taken to the nearby deserted outbakes. She is then let free to escape, whilst being told that she will be hunted down within 10 minutes by her abductor. This gritty tale delivers a clever twist ending that will stay in your memory for a long time afterwards. This truly is a great little story!
Following on we have the 18 page short story `Slit'. This tale was first published in 1993 for the compilation book `Predators'. This nasty little tale sees inside the thoughts of the main character of Charles, whose obsession with cutting girls comes to a climax upon one of his co-workers at the library. The ending comes about with somewhat of a surprising conclusion. Moments of this tale depict disturbing thoughts inside the mind a depraved individual, making it quite strong in places.
By far the shortest story included in this compilation is next in line. This 4 page tale entitled `Out of the Woods' is certainly short and sweet and was first published back in 1975 for the December edition of `Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine'. Laymon sets down the scenario quickly, with a camper waking up in his tent in the night, hearing an intruder demanding he get out and hand over all his possessions. From here a very amusing and cleverly achieved twist to the tale brings its short lived life to a very satisfying conclusion that will leave a big grin on your face. Personally, I think this little tale is fantastic.
Next up we have the bizarre tale entitled `Stiff Intruders' that saw itself first published back in 1980 for the March edition of `Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine'. The 8 page story sets out the bizarre premise of corpses being left on the garden chair of a now released ex-serial killer. Laymon's comical approach to this idea is amusing in itself, especially as the tale draws to fitting yet slightly predictable conclusion.
The 22 page short story titled `Special' is next, which was originally published in 1991 for the compilation book titled `Under The Fang'. A graphic novel version of the short was later released in 1993 for the book `System Shock'. The story takes on a very similar modern day vampire premise to that of Stephen Norrington's 1998 movie `Blade'. Obviously this short predates the film by a long way, but there are definite similarities between the two with the careful play with the social aspect of the vampire lives and their interaction to mankind. `Slit' is a fast paced slice of pure adrenaline fuelled vampire action. The short has a definite feel to it that it has simply been torn from the middle pages of a full length novel; such is the straight in at the deep end policy taken by Laymon on this tale. Even with its mere 22 pages, the short packs in a full bodied storyline that concludes well. This piece is very different from the rest of the shorts in the collection, and as such, works well within the book as a whole.
`Joyce' follows, which is a 20 page short that, like with the earlier short `The Mask', was first published for the 1993 limited edition publication `A Good, Secret Place'. Here we have the slightly surreal story of a woman who finds out that her new husband has his dead ex-wife stuffed and kept in his house. The husband cares for the stuffed corpse in a similar way to that which certain lonely individuals do with their life size human dolls (I'm sure we've all seen a similar disturbing documentary on these guys at some time or another). This bizarre little tale, revolves around the stresses involved for the new wife as she attempts to deal with this oddity to their new marriage. Of course, as it's a Laymon story, things turn nasty. Not a bad story at all, but not one of the better ones in the book.
Last up we have the short entitled `A Good, Secret Place' that was taken from the same limited edition compilation book as `The Mask' and `Joyce'. This final tale was actually short-listed for a Bram Stoker Award by the Horror Writer's Association for `superior achievement in a collection'. This 27 page short story includes the strongest content of all the shorts included within the compilation. The story follows two friends who try to avoid a nerdy new kid who moves to their neighbourhood. When the new kid finally latches on to them, they decide to teach this nerdy kid a lesson. Their nasty prank back fires somewhat, with a final ending to the short (and indeed the whole book) that will leave you with mouth agape. Quite a shocking ending with a dare I say bad-taste finale. But that's what we love about Laymon - his no holds barred approach to writing.
All in all, `Fiends' delivers a powerful and thoroughly enjoyable collection of shorts that are sure to please every fan of Laymon's work. The book also serves as a good introduction to Laymon for people who have so far missed out on this great horror writer. Each tale stands out from the next, with clever ideas, bold statements and pure Laymon shock value.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read,
This review is from: Fiends (Paperback)Fiends is the very first Laymon book I ever read and I just loved it. I've since read about twenty or so of his novels but Fiends is certainly among the very best. To me Richard Laymon really is the master of horrors, his style is unique, he'll make your skin crawl with excitement - you just can't help but care about the characters in his stories, you'll suffer with them and hope for their survival.
3.0 out of 5 stars A good collection!,
This review is from: Fiends (Paperback)I'm a big fan of Richard Laymon's, so perhaps my expectations were a bit high. The stories are all entertaining, but nothing that blew me away like his other works. Well worth reading for all fans, just not his usual brilliance.
5.0 out of 5 stars the best,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fiends (Paperback)laymon is my favorite horror writer,i think i`v read all his books.with a blend of sex,violence,suspense and caring for his characters, you just sit there at the edge of the seat and wish that the story never ends.Fiends is one of the best horror collections i have read.
erik l timbrevig "ęsop"
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, sheer genius,
By A Customer
This review is from: Fiends (Paperback)This is Laymon at his greatest- sex, action, suspense, adventure, violence...Oh the beloved violence! His best since 'Savage'. Not for the faint hearted although its the kind of book lonely library assistants sneak home at night for some private mind-wandering. Genius. Sheer Genius
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant!,
This review is from: Fiends (Paperback)He has his very own writing style - well, most of the better authors do but Laymon's is really unique. No one writes like him. His novels are always gory, there's always a lot of violence, people are being stalked, women are getting raped. It's always the same situation - people are being victimized in the worst ways imaginable, because some seemingly tough guy/guys think it's funny and they get away with it. They might, for a while, but eventually someone will stand up to them and fight back.
Laymon is very creative and comes up with the most far-fetched and unbelievable theories, but the way he describes things, they usually start to sound at least possible quite quickly. Laymon also injects a large portion of (black) humour into his stories. The message is clear - Trust no one. Everyone out there could be a potential killer/rapist/psychopath trying to get you.
I've read 30 Laymon novels and I must say, I'm much more careful now. I certainly make sure all the doors and windows are locked at night! I especially loved The Travelling Vampire Show, Funland and Fiends.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Fiends by Richard Laymon (Paperback - 13 Nov 1997)