WTF Weekend: Body Rides by Richard Laymon

Neal has been carrying a gun in his car lately—just to be safe. And it looks like it's a good thing he has. When he spots a woman tied naked to a tree and a man ready to kill her, he has no choice but to shoot the attacker. As a reward, the woman gives Neal something unimaginable.

Neal's reward is a bracelet. A very special bracelet. It enables its wearer to step inside other people, to see through their eyes, to feel whatever they feel. To take "body rides." But Neal has a big problem. The man he shot isn't dead. And he wants revenge. First he's going to finish what he started with the woman. Then he's going after Neal...

   

Richard Laymon books are the literary equivalent of watching a low-budget slasher flick while riding a dilapidated old roller coaster – a deliciously enjoyable thrill ride that doesn’t require much from the reader, other than to strap in, hold tight, and enjoy.

Body Rides is pretty much your standard Laymon tale, but still a ton of depraved fun. The basic premise is deceptively simple - after rescuing a beautiful woman from a vicious serial killer (this happens a lot with Laymon), a young man finds himself rewarded with a magic bracelet that allows him to leave his body and hitch a ride within the flesh of anybody he chooses.

It's not just a physical joyride, however. Neal actually experiences the thoughts, the emotions, and the physical sensations of whatever body he's riding. What he can't do, however, is control their speech or actions. As the title suggests, he's just along for the ride.

It's during his first long-distance ride that Neal discovers that not only is the serial killer he left for dead very much alive (again, this happens a lot with Laymon), but he’s coming back to finish the job. Trapped in the ride, Neal can do nothing but watch the murder from inside the body of the victim. Chilling, creepy, claustrophobic stuff.

A large portion of the book is dedicated to Neal’s frantic flight, along with establishing his relationship with a pair of women who become key to the eventual resolution of the story. By the end, all three of them have used the bracelet for various voyeuristic, investigative, erotic, and frightening body rides. Personally, I would have loved to share more in Neal’s experiences riding along in either Sue or Marta’s body, but we certainly get our fair share of Sue experiencing Neal, and the novelty/curiosity aspect is certainly handled very well. Laymon always incorporates a creepy, voyeuristic sort of eroticism with his books, and here it works exceptionally well.

Realistically, the story could have been a good 100 pages shorter, but Laymon’s books are always as much about the experience and the atmosphere as they are about the plot, and that narrative excess is part of the thrill. As for the ending, it's one of Laymon's best, a total WTF moment that completely betrays everything you expect from the story.


Paperback: 512 pages
Published: August 15th 1996
Published by: Feature

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Comments

  1. I very much liked this one...would like to see them doing films of Laymon's work.

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