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Triage / Richard Laymon, Edward Lee, and Jack Ketchum

thTriageCover.jpgLeisure Books / January 2008
Reviewed by: Jeff Burk

Three novellas, one simple, shared premise: a receptionist gets a phone call promising her murder, and then a stranger walks into the room and starts shooting. From this common starting point, Richard Laymon, Edward Lee, and Jack Ketchum each wrote a novella for Triage, the latest offering from Leisure's paperback horror line. Readers already familiar with these master dark scribes know what’s in store for them.

The highly-revered Richard Laymon leads off the collection with his story "Triage." Laymon takes the premise and runs in the most predictable direction, giving the read one hundred pages of stalking and slashing. Pulling the cheapest tricks from his bag, Laymon strips his female protagonist to her underwear almost immediately and subjects her to unremitting violence and sexual abuse. Throw in a completely nondescript villain and a plotline based around coincidence and convenience and you have one of Laymon's weakest offerings.

Edward Lee is next with "In the Year of Our Lord: 2022." He places his story on a spacecraft in a distant future where Fundamentalist Christians have taken over every aspect of society. The story follows Sharon after her near-fatal run in with a crazy gunman that, along with acts of attempted sabotage, begin to make her think that her ship's mission is not the standard refueling run as she was told. The final destination brings together metaphysics, theology, and hard-core horror in the gruesome page-turning fashion only Edward Lee can deliver.

Jack Ketchum finishes the collection with "Sheep Meadow Story." He abandons the opening premise about three pages into the story, revealing it to be a dream from which Stroup, a reader for Cosmodemonic Literary Agency, awakens. Ketchum gives the reader a tour of Stroup's personal hell in this quietly disturbing story. While it never becomes what one would classify as an overt horror story, "Sheep Meadow Story" is nonetheless deeply unsettling in its portrayal of a man with nothing left to live for.

Originally published as a limited hardcover in 2001 by Cemetery Dance, Leisure Fiction’s more affordable mass-market edition is unlikely to gain the authors many new fans. Triage is decidedly for those already familiar with its trio of dark scribes – hardcore fans who will devour the three new novellas. And while all three stories may not shoot-to-kill, they at least aim-to-maim.

Purchase Triage, featuring Richard Laymon, Edward Lee, and Jack Ketchum.

Posted on Monday, February 25, 2008 at 10:01AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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