Richard Laymon is a stalwart of horror fiction even if he tends to fly under the radar occasionally, particularly in the US. He put out a large number of very entertaining novels before his untimely death in 2001. Dorchester’s Leisure Horror imprint is putting all of his works back into circulation, and this reviewer tends to snatch those books up as quickly as he can. However, occasionally he misses one, and has to go back in their catalogue a bit to find it. Island is a perfect example, but I did grab it, and dove in, looking forward to what I hoped would be a crazy ride.
Rupert Conway is, for lack of a better term, a bit of a loser. However, he lucks into dating the beautiful Connie, who invites him to go on her parent’s twentieth anniversary cruise in the Caribbean. He jumps at the chance. However, after their boat explodes from a gas leak, Rupert and company are stranded on an uninhabited island. This seems like an excellent adventure to Rupert, until one of Connie’s sisters’ husbands turns up dead, hanged from a tree. The murderer is out for more, and tries to pick off the group one by one. Rupert is in for the struggle of his life, as he and the family he is with struggle to survive this murderer, and stop him from acting again.
Laymon, as always, quickly works the cast into realistic, believable characters that you care about or hate, depending on his whim, and then puts them through the wringer. This book occasionally felt a little long-winded, as I’m sure is prone to happen in novels purporting to be someone’s journal. The journal angle also gives away that the writer of the journal has to live through the book, or else it would be a novel with no conclusion. Despite these minor flaws, the book moves well most of the time, and it is a fun read. This novel has no supernatural elements, making it more of an exception than a rule-follower in Laymon’s canon, but it still has his characteristic style, sense of justice, and twist ending. A fun romp, if not his best work.