I haven’t read that many Richard Laymon, probably about three or four scattered over years. Luckily though, I knew what to expect – just thirty pages in and I’d already been confronted with two murders, one chopped up and prepared nicely for the freezer, a detailed satanic orgy and repetitive rape.
“Beware!” is not for the faint hearted, if you are easily offended then this book is not for you. It’s a brutal psychological horror containing elements of black magic. The main protagonist is Lacey Allen, a small-town reporter who tags along with a few of the other town folk to check out a shop which is thought to be haunted. Unfortunately it does contain something horrific but not of the ghostly kind. Meet Hoffman – a disgusting, repugnant, vile, deeply offensive, monstrous character – can you tell I don’t like him…
If you are used to this kind of horror then you may enjoy this bite sized morsel of blood, gore and female violation. Unfortunately, although I’m a fan of bite sized horror, I was tempted to put this one down *or thrown violently across the room* on several occasions.
Hoffman is one of the most abhorrent characters I have ever come across. But then again he’s meant to be – he’s the unremorseful murderer and rapist, the villan of the piece. But although I knew this, some of his actions and language had my skin crawling and made me feel queasy. He’s completely repugnant and sees women as just something to have sex with – a play thing – and when he’s done he kills them. He’s even done it the other way around and it turned my stomach. I’m no newbie to this kind of horror but this book got to me, big time.
So what kept me reading? For one, I never like giving up on a book, never have and so probably never will. But what I liked about this book was the plot. It’s actually quite intriguing and although the characters aren’t particularly fully developed the ideas are good. I can’t go into too much detail as it will give a lot away *just in case there’s a few of you who want to read this book*, but let’s just say it’s about being invisible – what would you do if nobody could see you? Would you use it for good, or for bad? I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that this time it was used for bad…very, very, bad.
After killing half of the town-folk, and one dog, Hoffman sets his sights on Lacey. He rapes her repeatedly after which she gets in her car, telling no-one, and drives home. I felt horrible how she was treated by Hoffman but because her character wasn’t really well rounded some of her feelings and decisions didn’t make sense or were totally unbelievable. One in particular was her relationship with Scott, who she meets when hiding from Hoffman in an out of town hotel.
After only a few days of being raped, with bruises and cuts over her body, including the sensitive places, she still gets turned on when Scott touches her and after knowing each other for only a few days they have sex. I mean, really?? I find it incredibly hard to believe that any woman would want another man near her for months, maybe years, after such an horrorific experience let alone a few days!! *This was one of those times I wanted to throw the book against the nearest wall*
After a few chapters of Scott and Lacey fighting with Hoffman, then running from Hoffman, then fighting with Hoffman…again, Scott decides to bring in Dukane, an old friend who’s used to dealing with these kinds of people and situations, as he does it for a living. When he arrives things don’t actually get better they just continue. Lots of black magic, abuse, blood and rape. That’s about it. Until thankfully, and with a humungous sigh of relief, I finish the last page and close the book.
“Beware!” isn’t the best book in Laymon’s repertoire, in fact it’s probably one of the worst I’ve read. This book affected me in a way that hasn’t happened before – even when I’ve read Shaun Hutson, who can be just as graphic and sadistic. I love horror, and I love a bit of blood and gore as much as the next person, but what got to me most was the rape and it’s this which made “Beware!” just downright distasteful. I can’t say I’d recommend this book, because I wouldn’t.