Blood Games

I absolutely hated this book but had to keep reading until the end to see just how bad it could get. I picked up Blood Games by Richard Laymon at a thrift store in San Francisco’s Mission District. I had heard that Laymon was a good horror writer, saw the blurbs from Stephen King and Publishers Weekly on the back touting Laymon’s horror-writing skills, and was intrigued by the synopsis: a group of post-college-aged women meet each year to vacation together, but this year they go to a haunted lodge. It sounded great, and surely Stephen King wouldn’t steer me wrong. I had loved Shane Stevens’ books, which I also picked up based on a King blurb.

Well, Stephen King did me wrong with this particular book, and I have a feeling it was not Blood Games he read when he wrote, “If you’ve missed Laymon, you’ve missed a treat.” In Blood Games, five young women meet in college where they forge an unbreakable relationship in the shower room of all places. Get where this book is going? Finley, Cora, Abilene, Helen, and Vivian are like the Spice Girls, each representing a female stereotype, except this time there is a fat, ugly Spice, who comes up with the vacation idea to the haunted lodge. The first thing that happens when the women get to the lodge? They strip. Because, of course, that’s what women do when they get together. They take off their clothes. And they put them on again and take them off: “Vivian, already in her panties, shot her arms through the shoulder straps of her bra and pulled the flimsy red cups over her breasts and fastened the hooks. Helen was zipping the fly of her Bermuda shorts.”

I should have kept a tally of how often these women strip. By page 300 it truly gets ridiculous, as Laymon lovingly tells of bras becoming unhooked, panties tucked into the waistbands of skirts, and how free the women suddenly felt divorced from their undergarments. That pretty much is the plot of this book. There is a little Deliverance-style tangle with the backwoods inhabitants, but this secondary plot pales in comparison to the stripteases.

I suppose there is a market for this type of book, but I’m not happy about it. I’m going to give Laymon one more try and read his Bram Stoker award-winning The Traveling Vampire Show, but if it’s as bad as Blood Games, I’m giving up Laymon for Lent.

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