Labyrinth by Eric Mackenzie-Lamb (1980)

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IN THE DEPTHS OF THE SWAMP LURKED A GRUESOME NIGHTMARE

Nope. Not really, anyway.

Labyrinth is difficult, because I liked it quite a bit, but it also lied to me. It promised me a gruesome lurking nightmare, something ‘even more sinister than grisly human remains’. It promised a ‘terrifying secret’. It delivered on none of this.

And yet…it’s pretty good!

It’s horror in as much as Deliverance is a horror tale. There’s a killer on the loose, who we meet in the first 40 pages or so, making a mockery of another of the books claims (’til at last the crazed killer is revealed!’), as well as a professor hiding out in a swamp from a false rape claim. There’s also the mystery of some lost Mexican money, and an opening flashback that is utterly pointless. There’s ALSO some to-do about immigrant workers, and some nonsense about an old poacher who exists solely to act as a ridiculous deus ex machina…

So yeah, despite not really being much of a horror, it’s a fairly effective thriller in parts. With the exception of one scene, it chugs along quite nicely. The scene in question follows the rules of pulp horror, whereby an ‘expert’ in something has to stop the book dead in it’s tracks with a terribly boring explanation. Childmare had it’s dreaded ‘facts about lead’ sequence, while Labyrinth goes one better with the question –

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Oh god, you just know the next 5 pages are going to be eminently skippable.

Anyway, all the totally disparate storylines somehow come together in the last 50  pages or so, and it all kicks off with some vicious action culminating in a chase through the swamp.

Like I said, it’s a fun read, but I do wish it hadn’t been mis-sold as a supernatural tale of unrelenting horror. That’s just setting me up for disappointment!

WHAT BORIS THOUGHT: Boris was too busy marvelling that paperback books, only 35 years ago, cost £1.25. Now THAT is scary.

OVERALL: 3 paws out of 5

THIS EDITION: Hamlyn Books, 1980

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