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Let's Go Play at the Adams Paperback – August, 1980


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (August 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553141392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553141399
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,703,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I started to read it, and right away I was captivated.
Ian Myers Pritchard
I originally bought the book in paperback years ago with the idea that it would be a good, quick, trashy read when I was in that kind of mood.
Gary A. Levine
If anyone who reads this review knows more about Johnson or his work, I'd love to hear from you.
Michael J. Edwards

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edwards on April 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A young babysitter, Barbara, wakes up one morning to find that she's tied spreadeagled to her bed. The kids have complete control of her now, and free rein over the house, and there's no-one within half a mile to interfere - and their parents are not due back for a whole week. What might possibly happen within that week? Barbara is helpless, and fearful of what might be in store for her.
And that is only the beginning: there are many interesting things to try out on her, many interesting ways of tying her up; a week is a very long time... a mini-eternity....
This book is one of the most terrifying and claustrophobic novels I have ever read, and leaves you wrung out and shaking. For once, the cover blurb is no idle boast. ("A novel more terrifying than LORD OF THE FLIES & THE EXORCIST combined!" "A horror tale that will harrow you and haunt you long after you have finished it.")
This is the ultimate book about the effects - physical, mental, and emotional - of long-term, close confinement. It is the last word about what it is like to be tied up helplessly; after this, every other book I have read in which someone is bound is, with but one exception, shallow and unconvincing by comparison in its depiction of being bound. This novel should be read by any fiction writer who wishes to convincingly portray what it is like to be tied up for prolonged periods: the terror, the helplessness, the gibbering mind, the internal dialogues, the physical restlessness which itself torments. Just *reading* it makes you feel the agony of all this yourself. The challenge for authors would be to write about confinement just as well as this novel, but without copying it.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mendal W. Johnson, Let's Go Play at the Adams' (Thomas W. Crowell Books, 1974)

The Sylvia Marie Likens case, colloquially known as the Indiana Torture Slaying, is still producing books over four decades after it happened. This is, in some way, understandable; it was a truly horrific event, the kind of thing that rips the veneer of civilization off a society in a way that your garden variety serial killer/mass murderer/war story doesn't. People became animals, there was a great deal of suffering, and to this day, no one has fully explained exactly what happened during the Summer of 1965 in Indianapolis.

The first of these books, and the loosest in its connection to the case, was Mendal Johnson's shocking and powerful 1974 novel Let's Go Play at the Adams'. When reading it these days, remember that this book is over three decades old, before the idea of extreme horror (or, as we knew it back in the day, splatterpunk) even existed. The infamous film Snuff would not be released for another year and a half or so. Dean Koontz was still writing sci-fi novels and political thrillers, and a young writer whom very few people had ever heard of, mostly readers of the euphemistically named "mens' magazines", named Stephen King had sold his first novel, Carrie, which would be released later in the year. This is the scenario under which Mendal Johnson dropped the bomb that is Let's Go Play at the Adams'. And a bomb it surely is.

One cannot read a Likens-based book without comparing it to the gold standard, Jack Ketchum's riveting The Girl Next Door, published eight years later. Ketchum and Johnson take opposite tacks when approaching the case; Ketchum adopts a tone of distracted horror and uses one of the participants in the events as his narrator.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By kacunnin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mendal Johnson's "Let's Go Play at the Adams'" is a disturbing and truly horrifying study of human nature. The plot revolves around a group of five Maryland children/teens (the youngest ten, the oldest seventeen) who, as part of a "game," capture a twenty-year-old young woman named Barbara and hold her prisoner for almost a week. Barbara is the baby-sitter, Mom and Dad are in Europe, and the kids get a big kick out of flipping the power structure, even if it's just for a week. Barbara is chloroformed, bound, gagged, and held prisoner in the guest room. The kids manage the house, stay up late, eat ice cream, and go swimming whenever they want. That's how it starts. Later, things get much darker.

Some have suggested the Johnson's novel was inspired by the real-life murder of sixteen-year-old Sylvia Likens (the inspiration for the film "An American Crime," as well as Jack Ketchum's horror-porn novel, "The Girl Next Door"). I reject this, however - "Adams'" really has nothing at all to do with the Likens case. Likens was the victim of poverty, parental neglect, madness, and mob rule - nothing could be farther from the upscale professional world of Johnson's novel. The only connection between this novel and the Likens case is that the victim in both is a young girl (Likens was 16, Barbara is 20) and that most of the abusers are children/teens. Likens' abuse was begun by her foster mother - the children simply followed-the-leader; they felt that their cruelty was somehow sanctioned because "permission" had been granted. There was never any intent to murder Sylvia Likens - in fact, there was never any intent at all. "Adams'" is about something very different. The five children/teens involved have a club, play a game, and kidnap/abuse Barbara as part of it.
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