Wednesday, June 9

Joyride by Jack Ketchum

If you're a fan of Jack Ketchum's novels, and are itching to read something featuring his trademark style, depicting sociopathic murderers and the victims they so lovingly...well...victimize - you're going to want to check this one out.

Leisure Books has reissued what was originally published as Road Kill in the UK (Headline, 1994 - Hardcover) and Joyride in the US (Berkley Books, 1995 - Paperback), but with a great treat for all you Ketchum fans - the bonus novella - Weed Species. Before this publication, Weed Species was only available from Cemetery Dance, and has since gone out of print.

On with the story:

Wayne, a disgruntled bartender, keeps a book filled with all of the offenses that people commit against him. The guys who give him crap in the bar, the dog who dumps in his yard, the kids who've trashed his fence - everybody. He hasn't lashed back at them yet, but the urge is strong. Things get a little out of hand for him and his girlfriend, while on a hiking trip with his girlfriend, and she can't take it anymore. After, Wayne witnesses the brutal murder of a man at the hands of his ex and her lover. To Wayne, this is the best day of his life. He capitalizes on the situation that the two murderers - Lee and Carole - are in and takes them on a ride of their life.

This novel reads like a whirlwind of violence at the hands of a sociopathic killer. The brutality of Ketchum's short yet sharp words, coupled with the subject matter - love, lust, and the desire to kill - make for one seriously action packed ride that will leave your head spinning throughout. If you liked Off Season, Offspring and Cover, you're going to be shocked by exactly how different this novel is. Unlike the aforementioned novels, the action in this one is immediate, the tension feels uncomfortably real, and the characters are incredibly sympathetic - almost too real. It is not at all necessary that the reader suspend his/her disbelief, as Ketchum isn't going to give you the choice in the matter anyhow. Thinking back on the story, one might find it hard not to say that this is one of Ketchum's more realistic tales. The title really does speak volumes to the perfection of this piece. This really is the literary equivalent of a Joyride.

As for the bonus novella, Weed Species, I really don't know what to say.

The story centers around the depraved activity of it's two main characters - Sherry Jefferson and Owen Delassandro - and their propensity to rape and murder people. The sexual violence and cringe inducing visuals are incredibly strong in this one. Ketchum employs his innate ability to turn the most innocuous words against the reader, fashioning a fast paced and utterly disturbing piece of fiction that you just can't put down. These are things that one would come to expect from a Ketchum novel, but the fact that this story is loosely based on crimes that happened in Toronto between 1987 and 1992, makes this all the more terrifying. Be warned, this novella is NOT for the faint of heart.

Overall, I'd seriously recommend this one to anyone and everyone who is a fan of Ketchum's work.



  1. I believe I'll have to throw this on my wish list, as I am certainly in the mood for another Ketchum read. Good review.

  2. Thanks, Rabid Fox.

    I really enjoyed this book. Sometimes his writing is just way too...blunt, but this one is fantastic.

    Weed Species is a complete departure though. It's a tough one to read. Short, but tough.


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