QUAKE by Richard Laymon


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 A big one on the Richter scale, but not the big one expected along the San Andreas Fault, hits Los Angeles and definitely strips Angelenos of their morals. At the start, the quake allows sex-hungry psychopath Stanley Banks to kill his wheelchair-bound mother by smashing a piece of ceiling plaster over her head. Stanley is the novel's chief villain, but as the tale unwinds, many equally disgusting people are loosed into the reader's mind, each a little worse than the other. Nasty people caught up in stomach-churning pornoviolence, though, are a Laymon specialty (Savage, 1994, etc.). Here, Stanley leches for his sexy neighbor, Sheila Banner, and when the earth quakes at 8:20 a.m. or so, naked Sheila jumps into her bathtub for safety, where Stanley soon finds her, unhurt but pinned by beams. While readying Sheila for ``rescue,'' he rapes their neighbor Judy Wellman, then kills another neighbor bent on helping Sheila. Meanwhile, Sheila's husband, Clint, tries to get home from his office and back to his family, but instead gets mixed up with Mary Davis, who has a car that runs, and with spunky but weird 13-year- old Emerald O'Hara, who is parted from her family. Also trying to get crosstown through collapsed buildings, fires, sheared-off hydrants, and wrecked cars are Clint's daughter Barbara, a teacher, her student Heather, and her boyfriend Pete. Sudden death lurks everywhere as looters rape and rampage and kill each other for cars and bikes. Laymon's insistent eroticism on nearly every page--after granting himself an earthquake to work with, accidental death and destruction left and right, not to mention a blood-bedewed killer pussycat and grisly maniacs skinning people alive--well, his endless torn blouses, breast-peepery, and slather of liplicking lusts are wildly out of place. A poor disaster epic whose vulturous vulgarity cramps all possible scope.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-13150-X
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995


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