First published back in August of 1998, Richard Laymon’s novel ‘The Midnight Tour’ formed the third instalment in the author’s four-book ‘Beast House Chronicles’ series.

DLS Synopsis:
It’s now been seventeen years since the last blood-drenched atrocities were committed within Malcasa Point’s infamous Beast House. Since then, the house has continued to draw morbid spectators from afar. Tourists eager to undertake the family-friendly self-guided audio tour of the house, where they witness the wake of the murderous atrocities that were committed there, via many blood-splattered realistic wax figures replicating the exact scene of the victims’ brutal deaths.

Furthermore, on Saturday nights the proprietors of the Beast House put on a special, adults only tour. The Midnight Tour. A chance to see more of the house including the normally out-of-bounds attic and the legendary cellar where it is understood the beast entered through the twin tunnels. With only thirteen slots available each Saturday night, this special, intimate late-night tour sells out every week.

For Owen, stepping foot into the legendary Beast House is something he’s wanted to do for years. He’s read both books which Janice Crogan wrote about her experience at the Beast House. He’s watched all of the films which were subsequently made about the story. For Owen, there was something about the whole ordeal which just drew him in. Capturing his imagination. And now, finally, he was going to get to visit the Beast House on one of their tours. It would undoubtedly be his highlight of his holiday with Monica.

However, for Monica, the experience would be far from what she’d count as an enjoyable one. Monica simply couldn’t understand why anyone would want to spend time looking around a ghoulish house where so many victims had been slaughtered. The tour would no doubt be full of creeps, perverts and weirdos. The only reason she was going was because Owen wanted to. But she’d make sure he knew her feelings on the matter. Monica wasn’t one to hold back when it came to offering her opinion.

Unfortunately for Owen, he also wouldn’t get to meet Janice Crogan, who would normally be the tour guide. She was away on a cruise in the South Pacific at the time that Owen and Monica were taking the tour. Instead, Janice’s twenty-year-old stepdaughter, Lynn Tucker, would be running the tours in her absence. Lynn had a good team of reliable employees helping her out, and she’d also recruited her old school friend Dana Lake to provide extra help during that two-month period.

However, nothing is ever straight forward when it comes to the Beast House. Almost as soon as Dana arrives into Malcasa Point, there’s a sudden spat of strange and decidedly disturbing occurrences. They find evidence of someone having tampered with one of the wax figures in an overtly sexual way, and at Tucker’s house, Lynn and Dana catch a glimpse of a potential stalker creeping around the grounds and spying on the two girls as they relax in the hot tub.

It’s enough to put the girls ill at ease, despite the involvement of Malcasa Point’s tough-nut cop, Eve Chaney. A cop who has her own close connection to the Beast House. But even with Eve’s help, no one could predict the terrifying events that are about to occur at the infamous Beast House on again…

DLS Review:
The novels in Laymon’s ‘Beast House’ series are some of the author’s most highly revered books. For the sheer over-the-top premise behind them, you can’t help but lap up the unadulterated blood-soaked madness contained within each book. Of course, this third instalment is absolutely no exception.

This particular novel is also by far and away the longest and most involved of the four books. In fact, by page count, it’s actually the longest of all of Laymon’s published novels. Nevertheless, as with all of Laymon’s work, there’s pretty much no padding within the tale whatsoever, but instead a story that rips along like an out-of-control locomotive recklessly veering all over the place.

The tale covers a period of sixteen years in total, jumping back and forth between periods as the storyline gradually unfolds. We start out in 1981, shortly after the events that took place in the previous novel ‘The Beast House’ (1986), with Sandy Blume now looking after her six-month-old beast-offspring. However, this certainly isn’t a simple laying down of the story foundations. Before we know what’s going on, things start to escalate at a mind-boggling rate, and in classic Laymon style, we’re thrown headfirst into a maelstrom of wild violence and murder.

In fact, with these early pages regarding Sandy’s story, we’re given one of the most explosive and over-the-top sex-and-horror scenes Laymon’s penned, which is magnified a millionfold with it seemingly coming out of nowhere and escalating at a wildly exaggerated rate. This is exactly what we all love about Laymon’s work. The sheer wackiness of how things turn either sexual or violent (often both together), within the blink of an eye.

The rich cast of characters in the book is also another factor that absolutely makes the novel a horror masterpiece. You have your classic Laymon babes – Dana Lake and Lynn Tucker (aka Tucks). You also have Sandy Blume who it transpires has grown up to become quite a hardcase hottie.

Alongside these girls you have Owen who’s our everyday kinda guy. His girlfriend, Monica, however, is a fucking nasty piece of work. The sort of girl who relishes in snide remarks, putting people down, and always having her own way. Of course, poor old Owen has no idea why he’s still with her. This seething toxic relationship adds a whole additional dynamic to the course of the tale, drawing in a feeling of frustration and resentment from the reader, with how Owen (who always tries to just be the nice guy) constantly puts up with this shit.

Laymon has also added in a whole additional sidestory, following Sandy Blume’s life as she tries to bring up her beast-son, Eric. With this we also have an evolving love interest, as well as a heart-warming friendship with a resident artist by the name of Blaze O. Glory. Honestly, we have it all in here, spanning sixteen years of evolution following the legacy left from the previous two novels.

Along with these characters, there’s also a whole host of other supporting characters thrown into the mix. However, one final character is again, absolute classic Laymon. This one’s John Cromwell – a chubby, sleezy, nerdy, loner type, who pushes himself onto Owen early on, with Owen begrudgingly befriending him out of some unnecessary feeling of guilt. As I said, Owen’s basically just a nice guy, and unfortunately, that often sees him being taken advantage of.

With so many colourful characters involved, the tale is invariably a very character-driven one. However, that’s not to say there’s not lashings of blood, sex and violence accompanying the plight of these hapless individuals. Things constantly seem to escalate out of control, with the repercussions almost always resulting in some form of bloody demise for one or more of them.

Similarly, libidos seem to be through the roof, especially when good old John Cromwell is out and about with his camera. The end result is lashings of pulp piled on pulp, with almost no let up from the craziness of how this rich tapestry of a storyline unfolds.

What’s more, within this instalment, Laymon puts a great deal of emphasis on fleshing out the whole ‘Beast House’ legacy and underlying mythos. Here Laymon details the books and movies that have be released about the infamous story, and we’re refreshed on all the horrors that previously took place in the Beast House, as we’re guided room-by-room through it as part of Owen’s tour of the property.

There’s just so fucking much to love about this book. And the pacing, combined with the short, snappy chapters, makes it incredibly difficult to put down.

For fans of Laymon’s work, the ‘Beast House’ series is absolutely essential reading. However, this instalment in particular, adds so much flesh to the bone, whilst delivering platters of splatter and bubbling libido, that it makes the series as a whole that much more spectacular.

An insanely entertaining read.

The novel runs for a total of 538 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Beast House Chronicles’ instalments:


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