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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Blood Games

By Richard Laymon
Leisure Books, 467 pp, 2003

Richard Laymon does chick lit.

For Laymon readers, as I am, that comes as a surprise. But don't get the wrong idea. This is a horror novel, and a fine one at that. It features five young women, best friends since meeting in college. Every year, they get together and go on an adventure - playing tourist in New York City, surfing off the coast of California. This year, it's staying at an abandoned resort in the Vermont woods, a resort with a bloody and murderous history.

That's the horror part. But Laymon isn't content with that. To get to know the characters and further describe their relationships, he spends nearly half the novel going into flashbacks and recounting the five women's various adventures, from the time they first met as freshmen to their adventure the year before. That's the chick lit part, because the flashbacks aren't really horror, except for possibly one on Halloween night. But they show us a lot about the characters. They make us like the characters. They help explain why the women do what they do in the Vermont resort.

Laymon does a fine job of making each woman a distinct and consistent personality. No character gets lost in the multiple-character shuffle. The reader does not get confused over who is who, which happens often with less-skilled writers. But Laymon is too good for that.

This is a fun and suspenseful novel. Laymon relies more on character and setting for chills. It's not nearly as gory as other Laymon books I've read, though there is plenty of skin.

So read this novel.

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