First published as an ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2012.
Cover photograph copyright Jeff Thrower/Shutterstock.
Jody is having a sleepover at her friend Evelyn's house when she's woken by said friend claiming to have heard a noise, and it's not long before the blood starts flowing. When Evelyn decides to investigate she opens the bedroom door only to be immediately impaled upon a spear, hoisted up into the air, and then carried off down the hall, still dangling and presumably dead. At first, the obese perpetrator of this heinous act is thought to be naked since we're told his buttocks are sewn up, but not to worry because it soon becomes apparent that he's just wearing a pair of trousers made of human skin, held up with a belt made of a braid of human hair no less. This wonderful beginning really sets the tone for what we can expect henceforth.
So this is basically about a group of lads that initially accidentally kill a girl only to find they quite enjoyed torturing, raping and killing her after all, and after a break of several years they kill again, name themselves the Killer Krulls and take a little oath, and to top it all off they run around naked apart from the odd garment made from the skin of their victims. In fact, as I speak, one of their number who is currently giving us a little history lesson regarding the Killer Krulls and how they came to be via a tape-recording he's making for posterity is wearing his Connie Kilt. And that's not the worst of the garments, not by a long shot.
Our current maniac then continues to whinge and fret about how Tom, who seems to be the leader, and the others, will kill him if he doesn't kill Jody and Andy who being witnesses could upset their jolly life of perverted slaughter. It's all very exciting, fast-paced stuff, and as things stand at the 50% mark Andy has gone missing after his uncle came to pick him up and take him off somewhere safe away from all the murder and mayhem. Spooky! Is Andy's uncle in on it all? Has Andy just up and done a runner in a bid to get back to Jody?(he didn't want to leave in the first place) Or have the Killer Krulls caught up with them and even as I type are making an Andy Kilt or sowing his buttock skin together to make a fresh pair of trousers? Probably not that last one, but you never know.
Anyway, I'll leave you with some choice Laymon-esque quotes for your pleasure.
Jody, watching one of the Krulls,
He looked as wide as a refrigerator. He seemed to be dressed in shaggy scraps and tatters that swayed with the motion of his lumbering walk. He carried Evelyn in front of him, on the end of his spear, her head near the ceiling.
Simon, our tape-recording Krull friend catches up with Jody,
I had her on her back. Her nightie'd gotten shoved up, so it was rumpled around her chest. I couldn't see her tits, but the rest of her was all laid out in front of me. That's when I first saw she didn't have any panties on.
(Note: It gets worse(or better, depending on your viewpoint) but I thought I'd leave something for you to look forward to!)
Tom(Krull leader), would have loved it here,
Tom was always reading these trashy slasher books, and this one had to do with a group of people called the Krulls who ran around the woods like savages doing all sorts of weird shit. They were a bunch of real sick puppies. They loved to torture and kill people. They ate people, too. A lot of them just ran around naked, but some of the others wore clothes they made out of human skin. This one gal wore a bikini top that was made out of the faces peeled off two dead babies. We all thought that was pretty cool.
Red Shorts alert!!
She wore a bright yellow tank top and red shorts.
(Note: This isn't our Jody, but rather Hillary, another of Simon's unfortunate victims. He's hiding from the cops in her house at this point)
Simon with another piece of pertinent info.
We do it in Tom's van. That's where we change into our skins, where we arm ourselves, and where we lather up.
We don't lather up with soap. We scoop the stuff out of a big jar and smear ourselves with it. Tom labeled the jar, LUCKY STIFF STUFF. It's just his sense of humor. Inside the jar, what we've got is a portion of someone we've killed.
I'll leave it at that for the moment. No doubt there'll be more delicious quotes in the next installment. This is definitely one of his not-to-be-missed novels, although I have to say, I don't think I've actually come across a Richard Laymon that wasn't at the very least, extremely enjoyable.
A little past the 75% mark now and things have been getting very Laymon-esque. I'm not complaining. I like Laymon-esque.
So, Jody, her dad and the policewoman, Sharon, head off to find Andy. If I've ever felt like Mr Laymon was trying to introduce a bit more character depth than usual, it would probably have been around this point that I'd consider that as an option. Either that or he wanted to pad the book out a bit, because to be honest, not a great deal happens until Andy shows up at Jody's motel room. This, it turns out, was part of a plan laid out by his dad and Sharon. They're rather pleased with themselves when it works out and have smug grins on their faces when they're 'caught' in Sharon's room, her in her very short blue shiny robe and the both of them with their glasses of Irish Whiskey.
It should be noted that prior to this, we had a couple of those Laymon-esque moments I mentioned above. First, we have a shower scene concentrating on the lovely Jody, and her soap suds. Here's a snip-it for you,
While her right hand glided the soap over her buttocks, her left hand moved toward the spear wound. The skin of her belly was slick and sudsy. She touched her navel, found the bandage down lower. The bandage felt like a small, wet rag.
Unfortunately, and strangely for Mr Laymon, he doesn't go into anywhere near as much sudsy detail as I would have either liked, or expected. Still, was worth a second gander I thought. Just in case I missed something.
We leave them here with their soapy suds and Irish Whiskey and venture forth once again with the eloquent Simon who must have the world of cassette tapes at his disposal, because he's still speaking his life story into his little recorder. He has a real thing for cross-dressing it would seem, and is now disguised as a blonde bombshell complete with accompanying handbag. He's still on his search for Jody of course but that doesn't stop him having a little fun along the way. He's in a red, open-topped Mercedes and spots a 'bum', one of many that roam the back-alleys of LA. He's pushing four shopping carts(translation: Trolleys) which are joined together into a little trolley train. Simon can't resist, and simply mows him down and then, just to make sure, runs over his head. Jolly good then. His next victims are a couple of gay guys, one with the obligatory mustache and both wearing tan shorts. They're walking their little dog. He's called Henry. They have a little fun and a little joke and a laugh at his dress sense, and then they die! A paring knife does the dirty deed this time, and Simon informs us that the butcher's knife commonly found in horror movies is just not practical, whereas the paring knife is not only more than up to the job but is also very discreet. All this is jolly stuff but I couldn't help thinking while reading it that it was more there to fill the gaps than to advance the story. I don't know. It just didn't really feel like it added much to Simon as a character and nothing at all really to the story. There is, however, a nice little checklist from Simon regarding how to get away with murder. It's nothing that we haven't all heard before but it's still nice to have a hard copy. You know. Just in case!
It's easy to get away with murder. I'm telling you, it's easy. All you've gotta do is leave before the cops show up. And only kill strangers. And try not to leave incriminating evidence behind, like a driver's license. One, two, three. Rules to kill by.
Well, can't argue with that.
After arriving at Jody's house and finding it empty, he decides to crash out in her room. I don't blame him really. I mean he's not having a lot of luck finding her, and everyone deserves a bit of down time don't they? He has a quick delve through her drawers, of course, but only finds a couple of pairs of 'panties' and a big empty space where the rest should have been. Ah-Hah! There was no car in the drive either. He realizes she's gone already. Oh well, at least there's her bed to enjoy. He fantasizes a little about how her body must've touched these very sheets before falling asleep. Meh, I really can't fault him here. He must be getting a bit frustrated. I'd have pocketed at least one of those pairs of panties(kidding!, I'm kidding!!(but not really...))
Simon wakes and there's another of those reminiscing chapters about stuff the Krulls got up to in the past. It's a girl called Denise that one of their number particularly fancied this time, and what's more, she only lives about a mile away. This must've been before this above mentioned rule about only killing strangers. Either that or they're damned hypocrites and liars. In his defense, he is thinking back to the distant past here so maybe he can be forgiven. He tells us how they simply fancied killing someone, you know, how you do, so off they go to Denise's house armed with a variety of garden implements including, but not limited to, a pair of shears. Suffice to say poor Denise not only gets her skimpy, see-through nightie torn off her(we're specifically informed of it's see-through qualities(thank you once again Mr Laymon )), which she does, and not only gets gang raped by each and every member of the Krulls, which she does, but then ends her days in several pieces courtesy of those garden shears. Gulp! Weirdly, there's no great detail in all this. But, even more weirdly, we come away with the feeling that we've just read it all in terrific, graphic and eminently vivid detail. I don't know how that happened, but it's a good trick nonetheless.
I feel the realism gets stretched a little now when Simon finds a couple of phone numbers on a pad near the phone and when trying one and discovering it's the Indio police department, calls back pretending to be from another department requesting info. about Jody's current whereabouts. Now, I'm no expert in the minutiae of policing policy and so on but it strikes me as a little unlikely. Well, anyway, he now has an address for the motel she's at. I should say at this point(if I haven't already, I forget) that Simon has a girlfriend called Lisa, and he has to find and get Jody back to the rest of the Krulls by 10pm or else they'll do to her what they all usually reserve for random strangers. So he's on the clock, so to speak.
There's another bit of filler now, with Jody accusing Sharon of 'boinking' her dad. 'Boinking' is Andy's favourite word. I like it too if truth be known. I don't know what these little bits add. Maybe I've been ruined for good character building by reading too many of Mr Laymon's novels, but this one feels like there's a bit more 'incidental' stuff than most of his others if I can put it that way. I may be wrong. It's not bad anyway. In fact, I'm not sure it's not to do with the constant switching between Simon's chapters(where he tends to be looking back, and recording it all on his tapes in case anything happens to him he says), and the present day version where we're back in the thick of it all 'as it happens'. The more I think about it, I think that may be what's been bothering me all along in this one.
After we're treated to a meal at a western style restaurant with Jody and the others, we're back to Simon again. He's still dressed as a woman and leads two of the Krulls to a house that he tells them is where Jody is staying. This is all a ploy by our Simon to get rid of them, presumably in a bid to eventually save his girlfriend, Lisa. He manages to kill them of course, and does it quite nicely too by putting on a wonderful little show and pretending to be Jody with a hood over her head and a belt strapped round her kneck. It's quite well done, and I'm finding that I'm actually beginning to warm to Simon a little. I feel this may end up being a bit of a redemption type of story. Well, here's hoping anyway.
Was planning to add the Steve Crisp cover art to this, only to discover I don't have a copy, loaned it from the library. Without giving too much away, and providing I've got the right novel, I love how Laymon ends this one (you'll see what I mean - though you might not agree - when you get there).
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Well, I see what you mean Dem. No redemption story here then.
Simon finally arrives at Tom's garage complete with his fake Jody in tow. He has this bright idea that if he grabs a Jody lookalike, the rest of the Krulls will never know the difference. But before he heads off to meet the others he has a little fun with her first. And why not?
She turned out to be a real squealer. A real screamer, too. And a fighter. She was terrific. All sweaty and slick and hot. The fighting made her breasts jump around, and also made her squirm and slide around under me, rubbing me. The best part was how her eyes bugged out each time I really hurt her. No, maybe that wasn't... the best part was when \i gave her spasms of pain that made her clench up and grab me with her inside muscles. It was great.
Tsk...! bad boy.
We also learn about the the Joy Scale from our Simon,
The scale rates a combination of things, but mostly it takes into account how she looks and feels, plus how she responds to torture and rape and so on.
And one other shocking moment whilst Simon reminisces. I didn't see this one coming,
Anyway, that's about all I have to say about Connie, our one and only twelve. It wouldn't be fair to say we gave her the twelve because she was Tom's mother. That'd be taking away from her. She deserved the twelve.
Well, let's let that sink in for a bit then shall we... Tom's own Mother!!! At least she rated a twelve. That's something I suppose.
So as we come to the crunch, it's all over in the blink of an eye, and we're literally told in flashback by Jody's dad and Sharon that Simon and the rest of the Krulls are all dead in the garage, along with Lisa(who had been manacled and hung up by the rafters with chains). It's all very rushed and comes across as a bit of a hand-wave through to the end. Or is there more to all this than meets the eye?
Well, yes, it turns out there is. Because now we're all back safe and sound at Jody's house, and even though Jody is having trouble sleeping and gets up to go to the loo. She turns, and there's our Simon, grinning back at her. I knew it. I knew there had to be a reason to simply wave one of the main scenes in the book through as though it were just an also-ran. It was actually pretty good, the way it was all done. And Simon turned out to be smarter than your average maniac. No chance of my redemption in the end of course, but then we'd have missed out on all the extra gore and shocks towards the end. And there is yet another shock too. Because in attempting to help Jody fight off Simon's advances, Andy, who has been with us all along, and who we've all grown to know and love(the little scamp), loses his head. Literally.
Before she could figure out anything at all, Andy's lips stopped pressing against hers. She watched his face glide away. As it moved, so did the drips. They pattered lower on her chest, down between her breasts. And then she saw the hands against the sides of Andy's head, the raw and stringy stump of his neck.
and then it gets worse,
When she didn't stop screaming, he shoved Andy's neck down against her mouth. It was wet and spongy except for the bone of the spinal column that scraped against the edge of her lower teeth. The neck muffled her scream. And then the draining fluids choked her.
I didn't see this coming either. I mean, this is little Andy. He's made it through the whole book only to cop it right at the end. RIP Andy.
Anyway, this book is full of surprises because just at the moment you think her luck's finally run out, her dad, who'd had several bullets put into his chest and was out cold on the bed, presumed dead, suddenly recovers enough to blow our Simon's head off. Jody is tied down to the bed at this point and gets splattered with bits of Simon gunk. So it's all's well that ends well. We're left with Jody and her dad trading wise-cracks in amongst all the blood, decapitated heads, and general gore while they wait for Sharon to finish her shift and come and help them. The sirens sound and we fade to black.
I liked this. There were definitely some filler chapters in my opinion. The two chapters that do nothing but give us a long lesson on the use of guns are a bit much, and in fact after diligently reading the first of these two chapters, I skimmed the second(just a little bit). I daresay it was quite exciting for gun-lovers, but I was glad when we got back to the 'actual' story.
No need to sing Mr Laymon's praises with regard to descriptions of the fairer sex either I think, since these can be pretty much taken for granted in just about any of his novels. I have to say, I look forward to these parts, although there was a distinct lack of red gym shorts in this one. Only one mention I think, and omitting the 'gym' part too. I don't know. Disappointing there.
Excellent read. Wonderful pervy bits. Even more wonderful gory bits. And some shocks, twists and surprises too.