Published back in 1999, this one tells the tale of a Sheriff and his daughter-in-law Deputy and the events that unfold over the next 24 hours after the discovery of a headless woman’s body.
Among The Missing is possibly the author most teasingly paced novel I have had the pleasure of reading. And while it treats you with the odd teaspoon of those familiar unpredictable flavour bursts of action, when you’ve had a true taste of what a great Laymon novel is, Missing’s uncharacteristically patient crawl feels like a drip-feed to an addict craving the all-time high of that glorious sugar rush of blood candy.
I believe that it is thanks to this patience that Laymon does not fall into his most common writing traps. A prime example of one of these snares comes in the form of the 1996 novel, The Bite, in which it reads too much about the food our characters are eating while on an extraordinary road-trip. It’s just unnecessary. That said, both The Bite and 1990’s The Stake are independently original takes on the vampire novel.
The man certainly likes his boobs. Pretty or ugly, young or old, fat or thin, no matter the shape or the size, he never fails to detail a female character’s bust. Take from that whatever you will, but it does make one smile to see that Laymon is a horny teenaged horror nerd at heart. Sidebar: For those who like a fast read it’s not as short as Beware! (1985) or All Hallow’s Eve (1986), but it’s near enough the same length as Out Are The Lights (1982).
What makes Laymon’s storytelling so effective as a horror writer for me, is in his description of the more violent moments. His style is so matter of fact that it hits you raw and hard. He’s quick too, like a hammer to the back of the head of an unsuspecting victim. I also like that even though he surely could, he doesn’t feel the need to do somersaults with his vocabulary, if for no other reason than attracting the wider demographic that his work deserves.
Like all good relationships the first cut was certainly the deepest for me, as nothing could compare to Laymon’s Endless Night. It’s got one hell of an opener. But favourites aside, the most interesting aspect about Among The Missing is reading Laymon’s take on writing predominantly from a police procedural perspective. With booby traps, shady characters, mystery and secret affairs, it’s surprising what can take place in just over 24 hours. And with Laymon at the helm, expect each surprise to have a grim twist.