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After Midnight by Richard Laymon

After Midnight (edition 2006)

by Richard Laymon

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284757,176 (3.74)3
Title:After Midnight
Authors:Richard Laymon
Info:Leisure Books (2006), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library

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After Midnight by Richard Laymon



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After Midnight follows the story of Alice (not her real name, as she is quick to point out) who has one hell of a killer (heh heh) night. It begins with being freaked out by a stalker in the backyard, then when the doorbell rings she thinks it's the stalker, arms herself, opens the door and when arms reach for her she swings her weapon and kills the unexpected guest.

So begins a trail of bodies as she desperately tries to clear herself from evidence of a murder charge, racking up quite the body count. As things fall apart for her we get a view of a broken woman struggling against circumstances trying to make things turn out okay for herself.

It's quite the page turner, plenty of violence and adult themes so definitely not one for the younger audience, it is however quite the entertaining and captivating book as you wonder where things are going and if Alice will finally get clear of her one original mistake. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Feb 22, 2018 |
After Midnight is not just another great horror novel by Richard Laymon, but it is one of his more original works that stands out among his many books. The book is written in first-person, narrator Alice (not her real name, she is quick to reveal), who has decided to document the details of a series of past events in case the authorities ever get involved. What starts as a quiet and mundane setting involving a timid woman with hints of a disturbed past house-sitting for a friend quickly descends into a non-stop cavalcade of unfortunate events and multiple deaths packed into a forty-eight hour race against the devil – even if the line between good and evil tends to blur.

The strongest aspect of After Midnight is, without a doubt, the pseudonymous narrator Alice, whose meticulous recording of her thoughts and internal monologues throughout her confessional memoir not only help retain the reader’s attention during what would normally be passive stretches of inaction, but Laymon also manages to allow Alice to reveal – both intentionally and accidentally - hidden aspects of her murky past and guarded personality that create one of the most complex and remarkable characters of his body of work. There are some points during the story – okay, many points – during which the reader will openly question Alice’s actions, motivations, and whether or not they should be on her side, but the undeniable humanity that emerges from her contradictory naiveté and ruthless pragmatism makes her an endearing anti-hero that you can’t help rooting for.

The events that unfold through the two-day period of the story occasionally challenge the credulity of the reader, but that’s to be expected from a Laymon novel in the first place. I hesitate to list any of the violent acts or situations that befall (or are perpetrated by) Alice out of fear of ruining any of the book’s twists and turns, but I can guarantee that even the most jaded horror novel fan will be caught off guard at least once or twice.

If there is any shortcoming to After Midnight, it is that the endless sequence of events that befall Alice are presented to the reader at roughly the same pace, and so the fatigue that befalls her at certain points is also felt by the reader, with little if any chance to pause or regroup. The result is a novel that urges you to read on while simultaneously leaving you needing to take a break. However, this is probably a testament to Laymon’s skills as a writer, and while it can make reading the book in one sitting more difficult than it should be, After Midnight is definitely worth the effort. ( )
  smichaelwilson | Oct 24, 2017 |
At first glance the plot may reek of simplicity, but it becomes apparent - fast - than it's anything but. "Alice", the pseudonym for the author of the spoof autobiography, is enjoying a relaxing week at her rich friends house while the pair and their kiddies are away on vacation. One night, watching a movie on their big screen TV, she observes a mysterious stranger strip, walk around, and use the swimming pool in the backyard. Since the house is surrounded by woods, its apparent he must have come from there. A bit perturbed and creeped out, things go from bad to worse when she makes a huge mistake, then tries to run around covering it up. This only lands her in deeper trouble, all of it propelling further and further off the deep end.

I won't say the character changes much throughout the story; while there is a small sunlight of hope that gleams on her toward the end, overall the book focuses on someone who's as strange as they come. Alice turns out to be not who the readers expect from the get go, but as the plot changes direction and new scenarios are introduced, it soon becomes apparent that her demeanor never remains the same. Perhaps one of the bigger flaws of this book is that Alice herself isn't always very likeable, doing things its hard to emphasize with, and not showing the proper array of emotions at times.

The plot itself is similar to a black comedy; horrific certainly, with its gore, violence, and macabre overshadowing, but it's evident Laymon had a hell of a good time writing this. Not just because of the obligatory sexual acts, but each word is adorned with a demented and twisted sort of humor. The theme is dark as hell but it's all done in such a light way it can be difficult to make heads or tales of it. It's almost like a guilty pleasure, though. You're reminded to laugh and get some sort of grim amusement out of horribly cruel twists of fates and deeds - should the reader be made to feel sadistic, or guilty, or else is it just the expert work of Laymon at play?

On the author's behalf, it couldnt have been easy to come up with a gander such as this one. I give him great kudos for his imagination. The words are done in first person narrative and this is a refreshing change; while third person POV is what generally gets smiled at and published now of days, it lacks that certain, special intimacy first person could have. Here we are literally in Alice's mind from page one, and it's an effective tool. As usual Laymon doesn't pepper down the wounds and dull the book by foreshadowing or nitty gritty details (except where gore or sex is involved), but he does keep it short and sweet. With a book that's 438 pages in volume, the pace is pretty swift and weighed down with minimal bulk.

And yep, if you haven't wagered it already, this book is traditional Laymon in terms of sweaty sheets and teenage like hormones. The sex is there as always, along with the lust, nakedness, boobs, and admiring of bodies. It's what we've come to expect with this author, yet here it's part of the cute humor and charm....in a sick fashion of course. The gore is thick as always, particularly with a saber as a choice of weapon, and Laymon clearly delights in exploring the detail of decapitated heads and such. It's no wonder this author became so notorious.

Suspense wise, it's not overly thick. The beginning gets the heart pumping, but after that it doesn't seem to be the point. There are certainly 'scary' scenes along the way, though, particularly with the monstrous Milo, who's one hell of a character - yech. Other characters all are intriguing - with the exception, perhaps, of Judy, who's just plain strange. Another one I never knew what to make of.

The ending didn't turn out quite as I'd hoped - let's just say since I was put into such a morbid voyeuristic mood throughout the novel thanks to Laymon, I was a bit disheartened by the sunny side up turn of events. Yes, I would have liked to see the dark side of the characters taken up to a whole new level. Worrying about giving too much away, I'll drop a hint for those who have read the book - the van may end up having two compadres, but I'd have liked it to be one person different. Strange how I always end up rooting for the wrong folks.

If you're in the mood for some truly dark and un somber moments, a twisted sense of humor and really strange sexual play, Laymon's always your man, particularly here. I wrestled around with deeming it worthy of four stars or three, but ultimately settled on three - guess I could never truly forgive Laymon for the 'spoiling of mystery'...and yes folks, another veiled plot hint I couldn’t help but give away. Have fun figuring it out while experiencing this twisted version of life for yourself.

( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
This was such a crazy book. So many weird things happened but after I've read it I must say, even with the craziness i did enjoy it.

I've read 4 books by Richard Laymon so far. 2 more to go. One with short stories and the other one is part 3 of a series which means I have to get my hands on some more books by this author.
3.5 stars ( )
  Marlene-NL | Apr 12, 2013 |
What a strange, strange book. This was a fast moving book. Easy to read and easy to get into. It’s amazing the misfortune and intrigue that had a very simple genesis. While things started out innocently and you can easily feel for the main character, there are some dark secrets in her past that are only hinted at that make everything that happens much more plausible. Some of the later action points seemed to be repeats of earlier scenes in the book, but overall the feel was great. And for a change in my recent reading habits, the ending did not seem contrived or forced. It played out in a way that was believable. Very nice job and I look forward to picking up other Laymon novels. Too bad Laymon died in 2001, I bet he had a few more good novels in him. I shall pick up his other releases. I really enjoyed this one. ( )
  harpua | Sep 9, 2008 |
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This book is dedicated to

Tom Corey

Friend, Photographer, Musician,

Construction Guru

and the Builder of Alice's Garage


To Donna, René and Amina

his special gals
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I've already explained, my name is Alice (but not really).
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Narrated by paranoid, defiant 26-year-old Alice, the book opens on a peaceful night of house-sitting - but as Alice warns, "You can never be sure it's safe." Indeed, shortly after midnight she spots a strange man emerge from the woods and go swimming naked in the family pool. A fortunately timed phone call that's a wrong number gives Alice the chance to drive off the stranger, but sets in motion a 24-hour whirlwind of murder, terror and madness, beginning when Alice splits open someone's head with a Civil War saber - and escalating precipitously from there.
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