Fiends - Richard Laymon 4/5 stars

          Fiend is an interesting short story collection, and at times, it doesn't feel like a Richard Laymon book. The opening novella is classic Laymon, but it for all of its brutality, there's a bit of a disconnect. This is what we've come to expect from the guy, but here, it's just to lure in his faithful readers, and Fiends as a whole just feels nonsensical. Who acts this way? Why are these people so fucking stupid? Laymon is better than this, and as the collection rolls on it's clear that he is. There's a bit of humor that flows through some of these stories. You even have a story called Eats that follows the formula of a pulp detective story, but ends in a such an unexpected way, you can't help but laugh at how it all turns out. Who would have thought that Laymon of all people had a sense of humor?

       There are some horror stories, but they aren't what you would expect. Slit is a weird little piece about a man who is addicted to cutting people and becomes obsessed with Lynn, but the twist at the end is what makes this story so interesting. Fiends finds Laymon writing different styles of fiction, and taking his readers on a ride. For the fans, it's an interesting glimpse at a writer experimenting, but this isn't a book for people just discovering Laymon. There's no way you could read this, and go right into a book like Stake, or even Night In the Lonesome October. The only straight horror piece is Fiends, but Stiff Intruders, and The Mask would throw people off due to its subject matter, and dark sense of humor.

      I thought it was solid collection that collects Laymon's shorter work written for various magazines and anthologies. We know Laymon was capable of writing dark, brutal fiction, but Fiends shows us another side of Laymon's writing. These stories are a part of the Laymon canon, and prove that he was a great writer. His sense of humor shines through in the majority of these. Sure, it's  black humor, but as a fan, it's refreshing to see another side to him. Fiends may not be perfect, but it's pretty damn close.