When he first thought up the character of Griffin, (that Invisible Man who would go on to extraordinary fame), H. G. Wells merged the scientific and the psychological to answer the a moral question: since power corrupts, is it even desirable?
In “Beware!” his own take on the “Invisible Man” concept, Richard Laymon (“The Cellar”) dispenses right away with the scientific, the psychological, and the moral. Laymon’s invisible man gets into that state after eating a magic bean given to him by some sort of blonde succubi who’s trying to bring down the government for reasons the book never bothers to explain: so much for science.
Psychologically, this invisible man behaves in erratic ways, perhaps to better blend in with the erratic behavior of all the other characters in the book.
As for morals, you’re searching in the wrong tome, bub; this is a Richard Laymon book. This is the kind of book that offers a beheading, a massive extended voodoo orgy, and the graphic rape of the novel’s heroine, Lacey, all within the first thirty pages. As for Lacey: one rape is not lurid enough; by my count, she gets raped FOUR times in the book. ONE rape, and you feel sorry for Lacey’s bad luck; FOUR rapes, and you feel sorry for Laymon’s hack writing. Each time, the heroine gets over the trauma with a speed and resilience that suggests that, in Laymon’s eyes, a rape is a minor physical inconvenience, ranking slightly higher than a charley horse.
Credit where credit is due: the plot to “Beware” may be icky and it may not make much sense, but darned if it doesn’t barrel forward in all its gory glory, leaving you no time to ask pesky questions like: “Wait. What? Magic beans turn people invisible? Huh?”
RATING : GOOD ENOUGH