Richard Laymon is a legend in the horror genre that has unfortunately gone relatively unnoticed outside of his rabid fans when compared to his peers. I was happy to see that Samhain Publishing was publishing a new edition of Night Show and I can only hope that the book will find a new audience for one of my favorite horror authors.
Dani Larson makes a living scaring people. She is one of the best horror special effects artists in the business and she thinks that she knows what scary is. She is about to find out just how wrong she is when she encounters the strange young man that she only knows as the Chill Master. The teen is obsessed with Dani and is out to prove his love for her in the only way that he knows how: scaring her into allowing him into her craft and her life. Chill Master swears that he has never hurt anyone before but his secret past is about to burst into the present and the fear that he inspires will become reality.
There are two things about the Chill Master that are going to change Dani’s life. One is his unbridled obsession with her that will lead him to take any measures he may deem necessary to make her his own. The other is a ghost from his past that is relentlessly trying to track him down to get revenge for one of his pranks. Dani is now caught in a deadly game with Chill Master as he begins to take his craft from just scaring people to making the terror real.
I am a long-time fan of Richard Laymon and have read most of his books but this is one that I had missed for some reason. The novel has most of the hallmarks that make Laymon so good as he lays on the suspense and sensuality that his fans expect from his novels. There is a definite pull to this novel that just draws the reader through the story and the prose is crisp and to the point so that the pages just seem to rocket by. This is a Laymon horror thriller so there is little fluff other than just enough to craft the story and keep the action going. Laymon employs a somewhat pared-down style in a lot of his books that cut straight to the chase and that is the case with Night Show. There are very few wasted words in the novel and Laymon just keeps the story running along from the beginning with almost nothing added except what is immediately needed to move the novel along.
With all that being said, Night Show is not one of Laymon’s best novels. The story is a bit choppy at times as Laymon plays with a couple different threads that just do not gel quickly. Even though the connection between the two threads was obvious, they just did not connect smoothly and this made the narrative a bit jerky. Another thing missing from the story that is common in Laymon’s works is that Night Show misses the wow factor. Laymon’s stories often come together over one (or more) moments of extreme action and violence and that just was not in this book. The big scenes were somewhat pedestrian by Laymon’s standards which caused the story to lose some of its punch. Still, this is definitely a novel that deserves to be read and hopefully a new edition will get Laymon’s name out there to a new audience. I would just caution new readers that while this is a good horror novel, there are much better books by Laymon out there.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. Night Show is scheduled to be released in April.