Discounting his collaboration with several other horror writers in Jackpot, Last One Alive represented my first foray into the World of Rufty. It's largely a dark and nasty place, where the characters tend to be unstoppable killing machines, or cliched hillbillies who like to torture, maim and murder for a bit of fun. Although, that said, there are a few more decent types. Such as camper Megan and her friend Allison. There's even room for one heroic individual, namely park ranger Amanda. But this story is called Last One Alive, so you can be pretty certain not everyone is getting out of this one with a pulse ...
Overall, I liked this fast-paced tale. It did, at times, get a little repetitive as girl runs away being chased by something, only to get caught, fight her way free, and then start getting chased again. But the quality of the writing is well above what one might expect for the subject matter, and Rufty displays a certain gleeful, sadistic tendency to put his characters through a painful wringer. And just when I thought my interest was waning things took a turn and went into unexpected territory. Arguably, that territory might have been a better book unto itself, but I'm a big fan of ending things on a high, and Last One Alive certainly ticks that box.
Unfortunately, the two short stories that followed the main event were not up to the same quality, and in a sense, completely undermined what I just said about ending on a high. The first, The Love Seat was entertaing and weird enough, I suppose, but the latter, Gearheart's Wife seemed utterly pointless and not at all frightening, unsettling or horrifying
So on that basis, I'm giving the novella that comprises the title of this one 4 stars, the short stories that follow it 2 stars, and rounding this to a 3 - 3.5 stars.
I'll be back for more from the World of Rifty soon.
3.5 Mortal Wounds That Do Not Kill for Last One Alive