Guest post by Jon Khoury for Jessy Randall
If you're unfamiliar with the great work of writer Richard Laymon you owe it to yourself to find a book or two and take the plunge. Laymon, the author of over 50 mystery, thriller, horror stories follows the traditions of absolutely no one. In fact, suffice to say, that any 21st century writer of mystery and horror without understanding Laymon is cheating the genre by ignoring a wonderful and true talent.
In Laymon's 1994 mystery In The Dark, librarian Jane Kerry finds a note in an envelope sitting on her chair at the circulation desk just before closing one evening. "Jane," the only word on the sealed envelope lurks in front of her as she turns and notices. As she glances around the library to see who may have left the note, she is interrupted by several last minute patrons checking out last minute books for the evening. Finally, once the library is closed, Jane is able to reach down, open the letter and read what it says. "Look Homeward Angel," it says along with a further clue or two as the book and the mystery begin.
Jane is subsequently led, via these notes into more and more dangerous tasks while receiving gifts from The Master of Games, doubling after each mini-adventure. (the first envelope contains $50) If you know Richard Laymon, the tasks become more and more difficult, risky, ambiently and overtly sexual and what lies ahead is good old fashioned, pre-cell phone to get you out of a tough situation, mystery, horror suspense,with spot on dialogue and absolutely not, your grandparents' cheerful Miss Marple adventure.
Once you read Laymon, assuming you'll accept exactly who he is, as a writer, you will crave more. Like the great works of Alfred Hitchcock, innocent people get tangled in most unusual ways. My promise to you is that a treasure hunt of your own will ensue as you begin looking for more and more Laymon books. And in a funny way, the prize and pleasure seems to double, as does Jane's fortune, with every read.
Jon Khoury is the Executive Director and CEO of Cottonwood Center for the Arts. Although he has a knack for being a people person, the people he meets in books are his favorite company.
Note from Jessy: Thanks, Jon, for recommending this book to me. I found it compulsively readable, couldn't put it down and finished it in two days. Here's my favorite sentence in the book: "The pistol went nicely into the big, loose pocket on the right front of her culottes" (p. 296). (Not a sentence you'd find in many books today.) I was disappointed that Jane didn't use her library and information skills more, however. Her librarianhood seemed to be for titillation rather than for plot. On the other hand, how titillating are culottes? Well, at least she was wearing something at the time. For great swaths of the book she's at least partly in the buff.