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Literature / Savage

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Savage (sometimes subtitled From Whitechapel to the Wild West on the Track of Jack the Ripper) is a 1993 Speculative Fiction novel by Richard Laymon. The narrator is 15-year-old Trevor Wellington Bentley. After witnessing Jack the Ripper kill his 5th victim, Mary Kelly, Trevor tries to kill him. Adventures take him from London to the West.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Jesse Sue Longley, a teenage girl living by herself out in the Arizona desert when Trevor first meets her. She's on the run after killing a man who tried to rape her, and she proves to be quite a capable fighter, even being the one to ultimately kill Whittle.
  • Ax-Crazy: Whittle loves torture, murder, and mutilation, and even at his most civil he's clearly struggling to restrain himself.
  • Battle Couple: Jesse and Trevor become one hell of an action duo together in hunting Whittle.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Whittle prefers to use knives, even when he has a gun on hand. He only uses guns when backed into a corner.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Whittle has an extremely macabre sense of humor. Most notable is him choosing his alias "John Carver" as a play on Jack the Ripper, which he clearly thinks is a great joke.
  • Family Extermination: Whittle's first attack in Tombstone was a home invasion where he killed a woman and her two teenage daughters. Later, when abducting women to take to his Torture Cellar, he makes sure to kill any men with them.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Whittle is implied to eat pieces of his victims. Trevor certainly thinks he does, though it's never actually confirmed.
  • Killer Cop: Whittle becomes a sheriff's deputy named "John Carver".
  • Mask of Sanity: Whittle presents as a gentleman. Under it, he's a raging storm of sadism and monstrosity.
  • Murderers Are Rapists: Averted with Whittle, which is highly unusual for a Laymon book. While Whittle’s crimes are obviously sexually motivated, he is never shown or said to sexually assault any of his victims. This was true of the Ripper murders in real life.
  • Red Right Hand: Trevor hacks off most of Whittle's nose when they first fight, leaving him with a distinctive hole in his face. For the rest of the novel, he covers it up with a satin patch.
  • Sadist: Whittle. His greatest joy is inflicting his trademark mutilations on still-living victims, prolonging their agony as long as possible. He killed his London victims before cutting them up, but this was only because their screaming would attract too much attention otherwise. Once he's in America, he takes his victims to an isolated cave where he doesn't have to worry about that.
  • Serial Killer: Whittle, obviously, as Jack the Ripper. When his murders in London start attracting too much attention, he heads to America, where he believes (correctly) that serial murder will be easier and safer for him.
  • Sex for Solace: Sarah only starts actively coming on to Trevor after the death of her grandparents. It's strongly implied that her relationship with Trevor is motivated as much by desperate loneliness as much as attraction.
  • Slashed Throat: How Whittle meets his end, courtesy of Jesse's Bowie knife.
  • Torture Cellar: Whittle uses a remote cave near Tombstone as one of these, taking women there for prolonged torture and mutilation. He also keeps the corpses on display near the back of the cave.