Though hard-boiled horror-writer Laymon has enjoyed a brisk career in mass-market and the occasional hardcover (The Stake, 1991, etc.), this stomach-churning mix of cannibalism and sexual sadism is Laymon at his pornoviolent worst--without the irony or manic glee that lifts most of his work above pulp. What's also here in spades, though, is Laymon's express-speed writing, an onslaught of declarative sentences and single-sentence paragraphs that whips the story along. The narrative opens on a note of sexual menace, as pretty D'Arcy Raines, a tour-guide at Mordock's Caverns, notices creepy 15-year-old Kyle Mordock ``staring at her rump'' during a tour. Moments later, the power shuts off, plunging the 40 people on the tour into pitch blackness 150 feet below the earth. A grim above-ground flashback reveals that the blackout was caused by a fire set by an enraged man who believed that Caverns' owner Ethan Mordock had killed his daughter. Other flashbacks, more vicious still, show that Ethan has indeed for years been snatching, raping, and torturing women, and that he has just introduced Kyle to the practice--but that he doesn't kill his victims. Instead, he drops them down a chute into a closed-off section of the Caverns, where most are eaten by previous victims but a few survive to go mad in the dark. When D'Arcy and her charges try to escape by breaking into this section, a bloodbath ensues, with the cannibals munching and crunching and the tourists gouging and biting back, as Kyle ogles D'Arcy and schemes. Will D'Arcy survive long enough to be saved by her sexy mom and her mom's new boyfriend, who even now are spelunking to the rescue? Maybe, but even Laymon's juggernaut prose can't redeem this off-putting exercise in depravity, which is as sordid as they come.