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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 2 June 2006
Fantastic!! A story that will grab you by the scruff of the neck and refuse to let you go until finished.

This book was a pleasure to read. It has no pointless subplot diversions / distractions / timewasting scenarios. Just pure, straight-down-the-line action. The characters are minimally but adequately defined, and behave appropriately (I guess; no firsthand experience like this). There are some gruesome scenes in the book. Whilst these are quite graphic, they are not overly dwelt upon. They form part of the story and are used appropriately to fuel the 'tension-rollercoaster'.

A non-supernatural horror that will rock your boat. Road Kill is my second Jack Ketchum book, and has left me wanting more.
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on 18 November 2010
Joyride opens with a short prologue, just a few lines, that aptly describes the fact that even the most caring and law-abiding citizen cannot exist in this world without destroying some kind of life. The Sheriff, Rule, one of the central protagonists in the novel, is driving through the desert. He is likened to a 'bullet', his patrol car the 'jacket', the highway that folds out before him the bullet's trajectory. Even doing something so mundane as driving, he ends the life of a myriad of winged insects, their tiny bodies splattered against his windshield. This nifty little prologue informs us we are in for another nightmare journey courtesy of Jack Ketchum.

Enter Carol and her lover, Lee. They are having an affair, partly born out of Carol's loathing for her husband who, more predator than companion, has made Carol's life a living hell. Howard has constantly abused her verbally, psychologically, Physically. Even sexually. Despite a restraining order, the relentless Howard continues to prey on Carol. It is now time for the viloence to come to an end. The couple come up with an ingenious and - supposedly infallible - plan: the carefully-executed murder of Howard Gardner. They will kill him somewhere out in the wilds, on a deserted stretch of mountain road.

There is just one problem. They have been watched.

Wayne Lock has not killed anything in a long time, just a few animals, mainly cats and dogs. He came close to killing his girlfriend once but lost his nerve. He considers himself a coward for his inability to go through with the killing of Susan. She, understandably, quits the relationship. Wayne now finds himself watching Howard's murder with a strong feeling of excitement and an equally strong feeling of awe at this couple, who have pushed past the moral boundaries of what is deemed acceptable, and committed the ultimate crime. The taking of a human life. Furthermore, he recognizes Lee, who frequents the bar where he works.

Now Wayne wants to take them on a joyride. Destination: Hell.

He kidnaps Carol and Lee, taking them on a road trip, during which they are forced to witnesses his killing. What Wayne does not realise, however, is that Carole and Lee killed out of sheer desperation and fear. They are not excited by the idea of murder. They are not serial killers. If Carole and Lee are to get out of this nightmarish situation, though, they will need the help of Rule, the bullet, a man with more than a few demons of his own, and who once arrested Howard for abusive behaviour.

The inspiration for Joyride came from the acount of the killers Howard Unrah and Thomas Eugene. Jack has researched the mind of the serial killer, as much as is humanly possible anyway. In addition to this he covers other key themes: spousal abuse (Carole and Howard); obsessive behaviour, the victims being stalked and tormented by an angry, jealous, and psychologically disturbed ex-husband (Carole and Lee 'Vs' Howard); neglect of one's homelife born out of an inability to leave work at work (Rule); and how much can the human psyche take before it crumbles or pushes forward that extra step ('fight' or 'flight').

Typically, Joyride is slim, has a straightforward plot, and is skillfully written and professionally paced. Jack tends to work more from character than plot, placing his characters in a hellish situation and saying ''get out of that one ... if you can''.

This book is published under the title Road Kill in the UK by Headline.
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on 14 November 2013
I'm very surprised at some of the lousy reviews that this novel has had. But that's people for you, I guess.
Well, I'm going to give it a five star rating and it was well worthy of that.

Jack Ketchum has a brilliant style that basically bridges a gab between the dark thriller and pure horror. And for me, that's a nice approach. I liked his highly plausible characters and the story actually has dragged together bits and bobs of actual spree killing cases. And when you read this novel you could imagine this happening. It doesn't have a silly, comic-strip feel to it like some horror writers have. Instead, what you have is a real scary journey of chaos and carnage and its a real page turner as the plot unfolds.

A couple are abducted by a psychopath who makes them watch his murderous crimes and vendetta against innocent society. The story is brutal, gory, and you can take it either as a thriller or as a horror novel. But then, that is up to you.

I loved his novels: 'The Lost and 'Red', and both made a great impact on me both as a reader and also, as a writer myself of such fiction. And Jack really has written some fine fiction indeed. I could write a more in-depth review of this novel but I really don't want to spoil it for anyone. That wouldn't be fair. But all I can conclude on is that I loved it and it is a must for fans of Jack.

Full marks - loved it!
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on 9 November 2013
I just found it too basic, with little tension as I cared nothing for the characters. Having read a couple of other books by the same author I suspect that I simply don't appreciate his blunt, spare, action driven style. (That can occasionally work for me but I was bored by this book, which had neither interesting characters nor edge-of -your-seat thrills.)
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on 16 June 2014
Road Kill is a fast-paced adrenaline-loaded thriller of the highest quality. Ketchum's novel is short and to the point, making it a powerful read. It was more suspense than horror, although the last rampage was genuinely scary. One of Ketchum's best pieces.
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Jack Ketchum knows how to write a good horror story. There is nothing exceptional or highly original about the plot of Joyride, but it is a very satisfying read. The book opens with a murder. Carole has been a victim throughout her entire life; her ex-husband Howard had abused her just about every way possible. The only way to finally get rid of him, she and her new man Lee decide, is to kill him and make it look like an accident. They think they pull off a perfect crime, but they do not realize at the time that someone else has watched the whole thing, someone even more evil and perverted than Howard. Wayne Lock has killed things throughout his life, but he has always stopped just short of killing a human being. He sees Carole and her ex-husband as his deliverance, kidnapping them, trying to learn from them what murder feels like. The end result is a murder spree of epic proportions, with Carol and Lee his reluctant "witnesses."
One criticism Ketchum is vulnerable to is characterization, but he does a pretty good job of it in this novel. Oddly enough, this is most evident in the character of the policeman pursuing the mass murdering Wayne Lock. He knows Carole's history, and she reminds him a lot of his own ex-wife; it is he, however, who makes the most significant realization about himself at the novel's conclusion. We get snips and pieces of Wayne Lock's history, enough to explain the murderous intensity of his personality but not enough to truly understand his reasoning. Carole and Lee are not developed fully in my mind, but this seems to me to be a positive in the context of this novel. I never felt strongly negative or positive toward them; they moved in a haze of contradiction where good and evil continuously wove in amongst each other.
There is plenty of carnage in this book--that's pretty much a given with Ketchum. Another given, and this is what makes Ketchum such a great horror writer, is a brutally honest plot that will not cheat the reader at the end. It is hard to predict a Ketchum ending, which is the main reason I respect him greatly as an author. The cavalry doesn't appear magically over the hill to save the day--instead, things happen the way they would most likely happen in real life--good and evil are second-string players in this game; reality itself determines the fate of Ketchum's characters. This makes for a gripping read, even in a case such as this where the storyline is nothing remarkably original.
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on 1 July 2010
Wayne witnesses Lee and Carole murder her abusive husband thus releasing Wayne's inner frustration to be a serial killer. He thanks the couple by dragging them along while he merrily ambles on a mindless killing spree. This is up there with some of Ketchum's best, OffspringThe Lost. The reader will be amazed at how effortlessly Ketchum can stack up a body count. It is easy to see that some of this story may be based on real events instigated by real serial killers.
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on 18 August 2009
This is the first Ketchum novel i have read, and even though the story was hardly original i am sure i will read more.

It has the same feel as a Richard Laymon book - its short (ideal for one sitting) and the action is thick and fast. There are hardly any wasted sentences and the story rockets along.

The big difference between Ketchum and Laymon though is the maturity and skill of the written word. This is a more serious piece.

Overall i like ketchums style, but would have liked more originality.
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on 31 May 2010
What a rip off! Have long been a Ketchum fan and have all of his books, how excited I was, a new novel to be published June 2010. Excitedly I sat down to read it, Déjà vu? it is Road Kill published by Ketchum in 1994 verbatum! The story itself is a great Ketchum page turner but why oh why republish the same book with a diferent title and synopsis apart from to get more cash from the same work. At the end of the book is the bonus novella Weed Species, guess what already read that one too.

If you are new to Ketchum, buy this, its a great couple of stories, if not check your book shelves and re-read what you have and save the $7.99.
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