Friday, October 21, 2016

WTF Friday: Body Rides by Richard Laymon

Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.

To borrow the oft-quoted cover blurb from Stephen King, “If you’ve missed Laymon, you’ve missed a treat.” Seriously, if you’ve never had the pleasure, I urge you to pick one up one of Richard Laymon’s books (One Rainy Night remains my favorite). His 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 more fun than anything else you’re likely to read this Halloween season. The basic premise, as is often the case with his work, 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 in anybody he chooses.

While outside his self, Neal experience the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations of whomever he chooses to occupy. What he can't do, however, is control their speech or actions - 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 come to finish the job - and there’s absolutely nothing Neal can do but watch 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, 534 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Leisure Books


  1. I loved "Body Rides"! Also loved the twist. I've read everything by Mr. Laymon I could get my hands on (most of his works), and enjoyed this one far more than most of the rest. In fact, it partially inspired me, along with Dan Simmons's "Carrion Comfort," to write my fourth published novel "Marionettes" (May 2016). Thanks for reminding me of this fun read!

  2. I was always a big fan of Richard Laymon and this was one that I enjoyed very much. It would be nice to go back and reread them if my tbr is ever under control!