« The Long Last Call / John Skipp | Main | Dark Harvest / Norman Partridge »

The Midnight Tour / Richard Laymon

th51Dkh5Dto3L_AA240_.jpgLeisure / July 2007
Reviewed by: Jeff Burk

Despite being hailed as a master of horror fiction by the likes of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Brian Keene, the late Richard Laymon has yet to receive the wider acclaim in America that he enjoyed in the UK and elsewhere in the world. Fortunately, Leisure Books has been re-releasing his works for a broader American audience over the past several years. Leisure’s latest Laymon release, The Midnight Tour, is notable as being the final book in the author’s Beast House saga.

While not essential to have read either The Cellar or The Beast House, the two earlier books in the trilogy, readers would be strongly advised to do so. The Midnight Tour’s plot relies heavily on the events of the previous two books and contains many spoilers. In order to enjoy the full artistic vision that Laymon had for this trio of terrors, a reader’s best bet is to read the three books in order.

In the series finale, we once again return to the Beast House, now turned into a haunted house tourist attraction. This time out, the sex-crazed monsters tied to the Beast House mythology have become common public knowledge, with books and movies detailing the strange abode’s violent history. People now come from all parts of the country to visit the infamous house that was home to myriad unspeakable horrors too obscene for the average visitor. In The Midnight Tour, we follow a group of visitors and workers at the tourist attraction who opt for the exclusive “Midnight Tour”, conducted every Saturday at the stroke of midnight. For those unlucky enough to be able to afford the pricey admission ticket, the true horrors of the house are revealed and Laymon’s visceral blend of sex and bloody violence ensues.

Laymon layers the main narrative with a subplot involving the character of Sandy Blume, one of the rare survivors from earlier in the series. This character provides the main thread of continuity between The Midnight Tour and the previous books. When we first met Sandy in The Cellar, she was just a scared little girl on the run from an abusive father. Now she has gone into hiding with a half-human, half-beast offspring and will do anything to protect herself and her child.

The Midnight Tour is amongst Laymon’s longest, clocking in at nearly six-hundred pages. The various plotlines interweave throughout the book and help sustain a break-neck pace for the duration. When finished, though, one will realize that the book contains numerous extraneous scenes serving as little more than filler and subplots that never come to fruition. At times, some of these subplots become lost in the main storyline and are never fully realized, leaving the reader with nagging unanswered questions. One comes away from the book with the impression that Laymon had too many ambitious ideas for the conclusion of the Beast House series and may have overreached somewhat in his ambition.

The Midnight Tour, which was written toward the end of Laymon’s life, is long, violent, and thoroughly gripping. With each of Leisure’s releases in the United States, more and more readers will hopefully discover the gory goods of this master dark scribe. The Midnight Tour is another novel that his fans should devour as one would the desert in a satisfying three-course meal - just make sure not to skip the appetizer or entrée.

Purchase Richard Laymon's The Midnight Tour

Posted on Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 09:43AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine | Comments Off

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend