Sunday, October 15, 2006

Deep in the Darkness, by Michael Laimo

(pb; 2004)

From the back cover:

“Dr. Michael Cayle wanted the best for his wife and young daughter. That's why he moved the family from Manhattan to accept a private practice in the small New England town of Ashborough. Everything there seemed so quaint and peaceful – at first. But Ashborough is a town with secrets...

“Many of the townspeople are strangely nervous, and some speak quietly of the legends that no sane person could believe. But what Michael discovers in the woods, drenched in blood, makes him wonder. Could the legends possibly be true after all? Soon he will be forced to believe, when he learns the terrifying identity of the golden eyes that peer at him balefully from deep in the darkness.”


Narrated in the chatty first-person POV of Michael Cayle, this novel has a promising start. The set-up's solid, if familiar, and Laimo's writing has a kitschy, sometimes quirky-gory flair.

That flair, however, becomes irrelevant when the narrator, Cayle, gets a serious case of Horror Story Stupidity (HSS), a quarter-way into Deep: several neighbors wind up dead and mutilated, and despite being told – in explicit terms – how to surcease the mounting body count, Cayle runs around like an idiot, doing everything but that. That's frustrating enough, but author Laimo worsens the situation by managing, for the next two-quarters of the novel, to sink the story further with avoidable clichés.

Laimo almost redeems himself in the last quarter, with some kitschy-great scenes and action, only to end the story in a pat, predictable manner. His narrator (Cayle) is supposed to be smart, but he's really a dumb-ass, and that's regrettable, because I wanted to like the novel, given Laimo's occasionally effervescent narrative passages.

Hack work from a promising writer -- avoid this novel.

Set to be released as a film in 2008, Deep in the Darkness hasn't been cast yet. Greg Stechman has signed on as the film's director and screenwriter.

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