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Richard Laymon's Savage: A Review
Of all Richard Laymon's novels, Savage was the one I was most hesitant to pick up. I appreciate his ability to tell a story, and when he mentions Jack the Ripper, I was afraid that he was going for a non fiction, biographical direction. Fortunately I was wrong in a very big way.
Laymon really out does himself with this story on an emotional level. There were many times in between sittings with the book where I actually missed the characters I was reading about. I was so impressed to actually have feelings for everyone. When Trudy dies, I cheered, when we met Sarah I felt a little smitten and when Trevor is thrown from the train, I cried.
You'll meet young Trevor Bentley. An exceptional young man with a strong sense of justice and a keen survival instinct. When Trevor and his mother are both beaten by her alcoholic and abusive lover, he sets out into the cold and rainy night to find his uncle. His uncle, just happens to be a detective with the local police force. Unfortunately, a chance encounter with a crafty prostitute changes his life in a major way. As he's chased through the streets trying to escape a mob of pursuers, he happens to come across an empty cabin. A cabin that offers warmth and a dry hiding place until things outside settle down. As he lays in hiding underneath a bed, he discovers the cabin belongs to another young street walker. Little to their knowledge, her new John just happens to be Jack the Ripper. Trevor listens in horror to the brutal violations being taken upon the victim. Angry and disgusted, Trevor vows to expose the Ripper's true identity and save the citizens of the city. However, he's discovered and runs for his life. Eventually boarding a ship bound for America, Trevor tries his best to live a normal life until the Ripper shows his face again to tie up the loose end.
The novel is a bit slow through the first few chapters, but gains momentum very, very quickly. Taking about six days to finish cover to cover, Trevor stuck with me for days afterward. A small feeling of sadness still plagues me when I think about Sarah... but you'll just have to read the novel to see what I mean! You'll catch yourself feeling the loneliness of traversing the wilderness alone, the devastation of having all the people around you die and the frustration of not being able to do anything about it. Laymon's pure talent shows itself here. Taking a real person like the Ripper and placing him in a purely fictitious story , and it being so convincing just cements the genius of Layton in my mind.
I'm going to give Laymon a full five stars for Savage. I know I docked previous novels for being slow in some places, but the imagery, believable characters and superb story telling more than makes up for it. Well done Mr. Laymon!
Here it is, one of my personal favorites.