Friday, March 26, 2021

The Running Man (1976) by Jon Ruddy

With the cover declaring "demonic cultists torture and murder in their ruthless hunt for The Running Man" I expected, well, demonic cultists, torture, and murder. But this debut novel from renowned Maclean's journalist Jon Ruddy is less about those things, and more about the protagonist's interest in booze, sleeping around, and getting high. 

The story begins with a strange supernatural event that certainly piqued my interest, however it's slow-going after that with little action taking place until the final chapters. I couldn't help but wonder if the main character, freelance journalist Jake Willoughby, was based on Ruddy himself--and if he was under the influence of something when writing it. 

Like many early Canadian horror novels, this book is relatively scarce. There was also a hardcover version simultaneously published by General Pub. Co. as one of their "TrendSetter Editions." These were notorious for copy errors, as if the manuscript saw no editor before going to print, and the dust jacket for The Running Man refers to "demonic culturists!" I'd have been far more interested in this story had the antagonists been a group of cultured Satan worshippers, rather than the bland cast of Anglicans they turned out to be.

Here's hoping the next one in the queue, his haunted-house book The Rosedale Horror, is more entertaining with some actual horror elements! 

Please note: I've intentionally kept this review short since I am writing more extensively about Jon Ruddy and his novels in my forthcoming book, The Great Fright North.


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