One Rainy Night by Richard Laymon

1419565Nipples. So many nipples. And lots of carnage. Richard Laymon is up to his usual tricks in One Rainy Night, a 1991 novel about a mysterious rain that turns ordinary folks into homicidal maniacs.

The story begins a day after a black youth is killed by a bunch of hooligans. Sadly for the mostly white town, the young man’s grandpa happens to know voodoo. He literally rains down his vengeance, causing a black rain to fall on both the guilty and the innocent. Everyone caught by the downpour goes on a happy rampage, like it was the most natural thing in the world to drink your neighbor’s blood.

It’s fast-paced, action-laden stuff for 400 pages. Familiar Laymonian archetypes abound, with Trev the cop and John the everyman, along with Maureen the woman who gets abused. Sex, as usual, looms large even in the most violent scenes; there’s no such horror that would turn off Laymon’s characters from appreciating some well-formed boobies. The end may be nigh, but man, those boobies look nice!

Despite all the titillations, the action gets slightly repetitive. There’s only so much the rain can do, and even those things are very limited (only first-hand exposure has any effect). On the surface it’s a splatter story, and that’s all it is.

The racially motivated murder that starts it, however, does give the story some unexpected originality. Deep down the carnage is a race riot, fought between white people who have been showered by the black rain (thus coloring them black, a feature often mentioned) and those who are yet dry. Basically, in the absence of an outraged black minority, the wronged family enacts its revenge through proxies. While someone somewhere will no doubt be offended by such ideas, it does follow the mechanics of many riots, often sparked by just one severely unjust murder. In One Rainy Night the mayhem may be magically induced and its violence is turned up to eleven, but otherwise it is sadly close to real life.

** (2/5)

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