After Midnight

REVIEWS - Book Reviews

"After Midnight" by Richard Laymon

Reviewed by Tracy Satterlee

Alice is not having a good day. She's house-sitting for some friends, enjoying the amenities of their large home, when a stranger starts skinny-dipping in the pool.

He leeringly approaches the glass patio doors as Alice answers a wrong number on the phone, so she pretends she's talking to the police.

In fact, the wrong number is another strange man who insists on coming over to the house on the pretext of protecting her. Caught between two potential rapists, Alice goes for the Civil War saber hanging in the living room. Then things start to get messy.

The book is Alice's (not her real name, as she delights in reminding us ad nauseum) memoirs. She's not the most mentally stable woman--she alludes to past multiple sexual traumas and abuse--and is practically a pure sociopath. Alice shows no remorse as she kills multiple times or when she beats an innocent woman, and just a bit of regret for an accidental death that occurs along the way. Victim though she is, Alice just isn't likeable, which leaves the reader in a quandary; do we root for a woman who coldly murders and disposes of her victims because they're the aggressors? (And what spectacularly bad luck to attract the attention of multiple psycho rapists in the span of a few days!)

I suppose it's intended to be a sort of an "I Spit on Your Grave" revenge story, but Alice is as much of a monster as the men she slaughters.

1 1/2 Stars.

Leisure, 1997
ISBN 084395180X