Body Rides by Richard Laymon

(No Series)

Neal has been carrying a gun in his car lately - just to be safe. And it looks like it's a good thing he has. When he spots a woman tied naked to a tree and a man ready to kill her, he has no choice but to shoot the attacker. As a reward, the woman gives Neal something unimaginable.

Neal's reward is a bracelet. A very special bracelet. It enables its wearer to step inside other people, to see through their eyes, to feel whatever they feel. To take "body rides". But Neal has a big problem. The man he shot isn't dead. And he wants revenge. First he's going to finish what he started with the woman. Then he's going after Neal...

The plot is different, I'll give Laymon that. It was a cool idea to have a bracelet where you can go body-hopping any time you want. The execution fell a little flat but overall the premise was good. As the back blurb reads, Neal gets sidetracked one night returning video tapes with a man torturing and murdering a gorgeous female. Putting on an act of bravery, he shoots the man, captures the woman, and saves the day. The ending should have him walking off with whistles and high fives shouldn't it?

Things go wrong when something else tragic happens, and soon Neal ends up getting other people mixed up in his mess. Things go from bad to ugly to worse as he and his accomplices try to track down the man before he finds them first. The plot is interesting in many ways, and the characters are likeable to a degree. Many of the scenes are tense and nail-biting, and there is a sense of "us against them" going down.

However, a lot of emphasis is placed on sex. Now, while I usually don't mind that and enjoy sex in my books -- there was a bit too much here to where it took away from the plot. Tension scenes were broken up to remove pants, character interaction was a little muddled as someone else got horny yet again, and things became a little too unrealistic and akin to soft porn.

When tension is supposed to be there, it is. Laymon really is a Master at getting things going strong and sturdy. At key moments the atmosphere was powerful and dynamic.

Neal is a loveable guy -- this man would cry at a wedding, a funeral, a christening, an engagement. He has a true heart -- one big enough to swallow everyone else around him up. He's a genuine sweet fella, and I couldn't help but really like him. Usually men aren't shown to be so emotional, but he was, and came across convincing. Sue came across as fun and chipper at first but eventually wore down on my nerves. Not her attitude, but just the way everything just fell into place for her. Started wearing me out. As for Marta, I thought she bent a bit TOO easily and was slightly unrealistic and two dimensional. The deeds of the "bad guy" are certainly violent. At times his actions come across a little too extreme, almost like he's there for a little bit of shock factor.

The pace starts out well but then slows down. Mainly it's all the unnecessary sex and dialogue pertaining to lust. Again, this can be a huge strength in a novel and I'm certainly no prude when it comes to the hot and steamy stuff. But here it's used in so much excess it's un-needed, producing awkwardness and teenage angst. Pretty soon it seems like about half of the book only focuses on hormones, not horror.

On a more positive note, Laymon writes beautifully. His words are well chosen, his sentences easily flow together, his dialogue is realistic enough, and the rhythm of his work is exceptional. If only the pace and plot of this one had been worked on more.

Like a cheap condom, too much of a good thing can wear a bit too thin. This is what happened in Body Rides. A nice editing would have trimmed it up the sides, perhaps some more action and less on bedroom play, and more focus on what's important -- the story. But what we have after awhile is a book a bit too long for what it's covering, a story that drags like sheets being pulled on the floor, and mushy (unrealistic) character interaction. It's not a complete lost cause, however; I really liked Neal, the tension was tightly wound at some points, and the ending was pretty cool. Also the idea itself was unique.

If you're a fan of Laymon pick this one up....or, most likely, if you're just curious about all the sex scenes (almost an orgy too) pick this one up .