First published back in June of 1985, Richard Laymon’s short story ‘The Cobra’ was released as a stand-alone story for the ‘Fastback’ series.  The Fastback series were designed to encourage reluctant-readers to take up reading, keeping the stories short, sharp and thrilling.

DLS Synopsis:
Decker sat in the ‘Bestburgers’ fast food joint along with her fellow agent, Blake Douglas, from their intelligence division.  However, they weren’t there for the burgers.  They were planning an elaborate sting to fool the good-looking blonde, Lana Jeffers, and thereby infiltrating the terrorist organisation she was undoubtedly part - The People’s Strike Force.

With the sudden arrival of Hunter and McBain, the elaborate ploy gets underway.  From the start Douglas is somewhat sceptical about the whole plot.  But it’s too late to back down from it now.  They’ve gone through the plan enough, and now it’s time to play out their parts in it.  And it’s time for Blake Douglas to play the role of The Cobra…

DLS Review:
The short starts off with a classic Laymon setting – a typical American fast-food diner where the so-called ‘intelligence division’ plans to put on a show to gain confidence with their terrorist suspect.  The characters and scenario are pure paint-by-numbers American cop thriller material, with the short barely hanging around to explain the situation before the utterly over-the-top faked shoot-out takes place.

From here on the storyline races off with the elaborate infiltration plot looking like it’s nicely on course.  Okay, so at this point the reader starts to ponder the twist ending that’s sure to follow.  And to be honest, it seems painfully obvious what it will be.  But it’s not what you’d expect.  Whether Laymon was playing a double-bluff or not, the ending to the short is surprisingly weak and uninspiring, which it must be said is particularly unlike the writer.

Nevertheless, for its short length, the story is still worth ten minutes of anyone’s time.

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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