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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Throwback Thursday – To Wake the Dead by Richard Laymon

note: This is another blast from the past. I had totally forgotten about To Wake the Dead and honestly I don’t think I’ve checked out any of Laymon’s other books. I do remember really digging this one so I’m going to have to go looking for more. I mean it has been nine years since I read this one so it really is about time I get off my butt!

Amara was an ancient Egyptian princess that bore the bastard child of the god Set. In exchange he promised her eternal life, only I don’t think she thought it would be as a withered husk that could only come out when the seals locking her tomb were broken. Of course that is what happens and she makes good her escape leaving a wake of dead bodies behind her. All of this is done in search of her missing baby, or actually any baby will do. Our main characters are a police detective named Tag and his girlfriend Susan who is also in charge of the mummy exhibit so connections. In addition to the mummy we have a storyline involving some kidnapped people being kept in cages, a man that has a connection with the previous owner of the mummy, and some kids driving to Hollywood to escape their old lives and make it big. The three intersect at the end and as they all end up encountering the undead creature.

There is a lot going on in this book as the action jumps between the different characters and their plot lines. At first this was a bit off putting but once I got used to how the story was flowing, I had fun with it. This also helps to keep things fresh as I’m not sure focusing on any of the three would have made for a good book. Just to be clear I’m saying that because of a lack of material and not writing skill. There just wasn’t much meat on the bone of the individual storylines so it needs all three.

I don't normally mention gore when I’m writing a book review but here I will. There is a lot of nasty stuff in the book and Laymon has a gift in describing the mayhem to the reader. The mummy makes a mess of quite a few characters as necks are ripped open and eyes gouged out in bloody detail. But that isn’t all that there is. We also get a lot of sexual torture stuff with the captives in their cages including a nasty twist where the captors get what is coming to them. Additionally, throats are slit and necks broken that have nothing to do with the mummy and her violent goals. These extra bits of violence make for a bloody read.

Since I’m on the topic of violence and gore one thing that the book does nicely is make sure we know that no one is safe. We get characters established and come to like them only to have them killed off in disturbing and brutal ways. And the author has no qualms about killing not one, but two kids! Not many authors will take that step and kill of youngsters in their work.  Basically you don’t know who is going to go next and that made To Wake the Dead all that more fun.

I liked this book a lot. I had never heard of Layman until now and after one book consider myself a fan. He is an excellent writer who knows how to tell a story and I will be searching out his other books. I highly recommend this one.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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