First published back in June of 1986, Richard Laymon’s short tale ‘Beginner’s Luck’ was released as a stand-alone story for the Fearon Education ‘Fastback’ series.  The Fastback series were designed to encourage reluctant readers to take up reading, keeping the stories short, sharp and thrilling. This one was published as part of the Fastback ‘Crime and Detection’ series.

DLS Synopsis:
Nineteen-year-old Joyce Walther had just finished purchasing a handful of copies of the latest issue of ‘Whispering Shadows Mystery Monthly’ which contained her second published story within it, when a handsome blonde man approached her with some concerning news. Apparently, someone had seen someone try to break into her vehicle that was parked in the mall lot. After asking her to come with him, the man introduced himself as Officer Stevens of the Santa Monica Police Department.

However, when the pair arrived at the mall’s parking lot, Joyce found her car seemingly untampered with. The man suggested the perpetrator had possibly used a coat hanger to get into the car, and after taking a look inside, informed Joyce that the items she said should be in there, were now missing from the car. 

With any luck, his partner had caught the culprit. Nevertheless, she’d have to accompany him to the station to file a report.

However, something didn’t quite add up for Joyce. Something wasn’t right with what this supposed police officer was telling her. Luckily, after what happened the last time someone had tried to kidnap her, Joyce knew she could take care of herself…

DLS Review:
Here Laymon returns to the character of Joyce Walther who first appeared in his earlier Fastback ‘Cardiac Arrest’ (1985). In fact, this sequel follows on only a few months after the events from the earlier story, making numerous references to the previous events throughout this second story.

Here we see the young aspiring crime-writer faced with a second attempted kidnapping. The fact that this supposed Police Officer isn’t who he says he is, is no surprise and certainly not a spoiler. However, what he intends to do and how Joyce foils his devious plans is what keeps you gripped in this short tale.

As with all of Laymon’s Fastback stories, the tale is fast-paced and incredibly engaging. Laymon puts down a quick snippet of a backstory, particularly useful for those who haven’t already read ‘Cardiac Arrest’ (1985), then he launches into the thrust of the tale.

The ending is action-packed and executed well, with Joyce’s inherent detective skills brought to the surface once again. It’s basically a quick-fire and entertaining read – exactly what the Fastback set out to deliver.

The Fastback runs for a total of 28 pages (which are just 4” x 5.5” with an average word count of around 100 words per page).

© DLS Reviews


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