First published back in March of 1991, US horror author Richard Laymon’s novel ‘One Rainy Night’ formed another solid addition to the author’s ever increasing bibliography.

DLS Synopsis:
The local community of the small Californian town of Bixby are in shock when a seventeen-year-old African-American high school student named Maxwell Chidi is killed and his tortured body set on fire.  The prime suspects in the murder are a young thug named Buddy and his equally antisocial friends Doug Haines and Lou Nicholson.  Lisa Walters suspects that her previous relationship with Buddy Gilbert made him jealous when her affections turned to the African-American boy.  And now he’s dead because of it.  She feels sick to the stomach and knows that she must do the right thing.  And so her mother Francine and her go to the local police station to give the authorities whatever help she can.

But that night, twenty-four hours since the brutal murder took place on the Lincoln High school football pitch; a peculiar phenomenon starts to take place.  From out of the darkened-night sky, black rain starts to pour down over Bixby.  Those that are outside at the time are quickly drenched in the peculiar downpour.  The oily-black rain soaking them in seconds.  And it’s not long before the effects of the rain begin to take place.

Those caught in the sudden downpour suddenly lose their senses, the person they once were now a bloodthirsty homicidal maniac.  Everyone who is exposed to the strange black rain undergoes this sudden transformation.  All around the town of Bixby, soaking wet maniacs are savagely attacking anyone who hasn’t been drenched by the black rain.

Whilst John and Lynn Foxworth are out at a restaurant celebrating John’s recent success in the art world, their young daughter Kara is at home, being looked after by their teenage babysitter Denise Gunderson and her boyfriend Tom.  When the black rain comes pouring down, Denise and Tom find that they are left alone to defend themselves and Kara from the attacks of the bloodthirsty mob that has arrived on their doorstep.  

Meanwhile the restaurant that John and Lynn are now stuck within is under siege from a murderous mob of rain-effected maniacs.  With barely anything to protect themselves from the brutal attacks of the crazies, the situation for all of those stuck in the busy restaurant is looking pretty dire.

Back at the police station, local police officer Trevor Hudson finds himself suddenly in the firing-line of the marauding rain-drenched lunatics.  With Francine and her daughter Lisa in his care, Trevor knows that it’s his moral duty to protect them, no matter what comes their way.  But the pouring rain outside the station is severely limiting what the police officer can do to protect the two women, let alone the many others in desperate need of help elsewhere.  

And the night has only just gotten started...

DLS Review:
The novel follows the stories of four separate groups of people when the black rain starts pouring down over Bixby.  In doing this Laymon pulls together a tale that constantly has a wealth of action and suspense going on.  Each chapter flicks between the different groups, showing the desperate defensive measures being employed by those in the restaurant, the terror of Denise and Tom as they try to hide within the home that Denise is babysitting at, Trevor’s heroic endeavours to protect the two women under his care, and finally the vile and despicable actions of Buddy and his gang during the night long epidemic.

Think James Herbert’s classic splatterpunk novel ‘The Fog’ (1975) meets David Moody’s ‘Hater’ (2006) with elements of  ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ (1968) along with a good old slab of ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ (1976).  The makings of the tale are certainly from well-worn ground, but it’s the sheer energy and excessive brutality of the tale that makes it instantly stand out from the pack.

With the blood-crazed madness erupting all over the town of Bixby, Laymon’s homing in on particular pockets of violence (a particular technique that James Herbert employs a lot) creates a broad overall picture of the epidemic, whilst hitting home the brutal intensity of the situation with scene after scene of impactful graphic violence.  Laymon pulls no punches in going all-out with the levels of savage violence; escalating attacks to incorporate a barbarically sexual nature coinciding with a chillingly realistic sadistic glee.   There’s no getting around the fact that this is a novel packed to the very rafters with violence and almost mindless splatter.  It unashamedly crams in the violence, basking in the pulse-racing energy of the events taking place, and showing the reader as much as is possible, whilst still keeping on track with a tension heavy main thread.

Characterisation is substituted somewhat for the much more overriding decision to push forward with as much action and violence as possible.  Yes there is still some development with characters, particularly in the case of the babysitter Denise and her boyfriend Tom.  However, much of the overall characterisation is pretty darn clichéd, with text-book Laymon characters brought into the tale purely to play out the required roles.

The four independent storylines eventually begin to merge together, interlacing to form one pinnacle point in the novel where the action and the heart-pumping intensity reaches an almighty crescendo.  With so much madness going on, Laymon half-heartedly attempts to throw in a vague reasoning behind the whole epidemic, with voodoo and spiritual revenge brought into the equation almost as a final thought to wrap up the tale.  To be honest, it didn’t really need it, but it doesn’t do any real harm other than ever-so-slightly slow-up small pockets of the last quarter of the tale.  No biggie.

All in all the novel is a fast-paced, action-packed and utterly blood-drenched rollercoaster of a ride, with more violence and bloodshed than you can shake a stick at.  Expect nothing short of a no-holds-barred approach to throwing all you’ve got at the reader in the space of a few hundred pages.

The novel runs for a total of 410 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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