We’re now in Chapter Twelve, and it begins with this:
As related in Crabs on the Rampage: (page 135)
This is the second time in this book that I’ve seen this little tag at the beginning of the chapter, and I still don’t know what it means. Apparently, events in this book run concurrently with events from Crabs on the Rampage. CotR is the fourth book in this six-book series which I have not and probably never will read, so I can’t compare this book against it and figure out if the entire chapter was lifted verbatim from CotR, which I suspect is the case. Regardless, why is it in this book? It has very little to do with the plot of this book, and by ‘very little’ I mean ‘absolutely nothing’. I mean, yeah, they’re both about the giant crabs, but these chapters don’t add any relevant information. It almost feels like they were inserted to pad out this book’s length, which is just sad.
Anyway, we’re back with Professor Cliff Davenport, who’s alerted that a bunch of crabs are infiltrating an estuary. He heads up there and meets the military. The crabs try to come ashore but the military fire on them and the crabs fall back. It’s kinda interesting how the military is either completely successful or an utter failure, and the same for the crabs.
Afterward, Cliff goes out to check on a dead crab to see how advanced the crab disease is. It smells horrible and looks horrifying, which is pretty standard for the crabs.
Then without warning the eyes flickered open! It could have been a trapped nerve suddenly springing free. But it wasn’t. Those orbs saw, narrowed, blazed their hate. Antennae stiffened and the monstrous pincers lifted and clicked menacingly (page 137).
Yes…in the book, this is all in italics.
Cliff is horrified, of course, but he can’t move. He tries and ends up falling to the ground and the crab chops his left hand off, but then someone shoots the crab and the world conveniently fades to black. When it fades up, he’s safe and warm in a hospital with a couple quickly healing broken legs and he’ll be getting an artificial hand to replace his left hand, which is no biggie.
The scene switches to a houseboat in the middle of the marsh. There’s ¾ of a page of backstory, which I’m going to skip over, because it’s irrelevant. Christine is chained up inside it, naked. Pete, naturally, is pretty angry about David sacrificing Billy to the crabs. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it was intended as a sacrifice, I think it was just revenge. On the other hand, we’re already well aware that Pete is fucking nuts.
Her bare buttocks were aflame with scarlet welts where he had lashed her mercilessly with the riding crop (page 140).
THE riding crop? What riding crop? You have never established a riding crop, Smith.
Christine thinks and we get a lot of backstory. Apparently she still is not willing to turn her back on Pete, despite being totally willing to have him killed just a few chapters ago. She thinks back to when he first turned violent. Apparently, there was a huge fight at a club they were at, and Pete suddenly busted out his elite karate skills and beat the shit out of three gang members, and this transformed him into the psychotic and cruel person he is today. But that’s okay.
He took a delight in inflicting pain on Christine, made her sit naked for hours in some uncomfortable position. Sometimes he turned her on but he never fulfilled her desire.
But it had not stopped her loving him. The complete man, a kind of superbeing, a physique that girls fantasized about. She had all that, but she didn’t know how much longer she could go on. But whatever, she would not inform on him to the police (page 143).
Fair enough, it’s called Stockholm Syndrome. But….remember a few chapters ago when she was planning on killing him just before she fucked Alan? What happened to all that?
Next, we meet a chap named Jack Fosdyke, and get multiple pages of backstory on him before Pete shows up, overpowers him, and takes him out to feed him to the crabs. It’s both uninteresting and poorly written and I really don’t care about characters who are introduced only so they can be messily killed.
Pete heads home and on the way he comes across a dead crab.
Somewhere he heard a faint whispering, an inner voice that spoke long-forgotten words in a wicked blasphemy: “Take, eat, for this is my body…” (page 151)
Pete agrees, so he uses his samurai sword to chop open the crab and cut out some meat, which he takes back to Christine. He explains that he sacrificed someone, and she asks who:
“An old man, Fosdyke the wildfowler. He has been put to sea in his slaying punt to answer for his crimes.” (page 152)
Slaying punt? How does a punt kill things? And I’m not even going to touch the first sentence there, it’s absolutely atrocious.
Christine is not delighted at the idea of eating rotten, cancerous meat, but Pete is not about to take no for an answer.
“A communion.” His clothes were off and she noted with surprise and dismay that he had an erection (page 153).
Surprise? What doesn’t give this guy an erection? He’d probably pop wood while getting a root canal.
Anyway, Christine has some thoughts:
Oh, you mad bastard, how I wish I killed you that night when Alan Cryke was murdered (page 153).
So…she’s willing to kill him, but not to involve the police to have him arrested. Yeah, that totally makes sense.
They chow down on the rotten seafood, which is raw and oozing blood and pus, just to make it a little more unappetizing.
Next chapter, we’re back with David Knight, who is gallivanting around and comes across Jack Fosdyke, who Pete set adrift in his boat, but apparently is still alive. David cuts him free and they take off. The crabs chase them, but they escape and David drives Jack home.
Later, while sipping tea, they talk about Pete. David explains that he’s crazy and he’s obsessed with human sacrifice, which are two facts that nobody would know unless they were one of Pete’s direct followers. Seriously, all that has been found are spots of blood where people were eaten. Any rational person would just assume that Pete is carrying out acts of animal rights terrorism – because, you know, he is, and he’s not being all that subtle about it – and using the convenient crabs to spice things up a bit and get rid of the bodies. And no – when Alan told David about Pete, he didn’t say anything about sacrifices.
Anyway, during their conversation, the houseboat is mentioned. So they head out. They get to the houseboat, but unfortunately it’s deserted.
In the next chapter, the military is awaiting an assault from the crabs. The crabs assault. The military starts wiping them out. It’s pretty uninteresting. There really isn’t any strategy here.
Eventually, things calm down, and it’s time for a random guy to deliver the Book’s Moral:
“I guess there’s a lesson there to be learned, but nobody will heed it. It’ll be forgotten, just like Bhopal will conveniently be forgotten except by the survivors. The world is bent on self-destruction. Test your nuclear warheads under the ocean and to hell with ocean life. If your radioactive waste leaks into the sea, so what? It’s got rid of it. Spray your chemicals on the land and what’s it matter if three generations hence a buildup in the body has created some awful human suffering because we’ll be dead and gone by then anyway.” (page 173)
It’s so…. *sob* it’s so…TRUE!
Christine and Pete hang out. She tells Pete that all the crabs are dead, which upsets him, so he slaps her around a bit. Turns out he isn’t terribly happy that she refused to eat the rotten pus-infused crab meat from the night before, so he drags her out into the marshes, waits for the crabs to arrive, and leaves her there as a sacrifice for them.
We cut over to David. He chills out for a bit, and then he sees Pete leave Christine for the crabs and watches them messily devour her. Finally he steps out and confronts Pete. They exchange a few threats about how much fun it will be to watch the other die, and finally they square off: Pete with his sword, David with his gun. And instead of just shooting the guy, David opts for hand-to-hand combat.
What an idiot.
Of course, it works out. David knocks the sword out of Pete’s hands. He breaks Pete’s ankle, smashes his face in, and leaves him for the crabs, which proceed to kill Pete. David runs away, and reflects on how it’s all over now, because whatever crabs aren’t already dead will soon be dead from cancer. Yep! That horrifying crustacean menace that had dominated the entire novel is now finished from a disease they contracted before the novel even started. Which was incidental to the novel. Hooray! What an incredible climax to an epic six-book series!
The crabs and their crazy cult worshippers were dead and gone. It was all over. He was free to walk away from here and remember a lovely young girl as she had once been before all this began (page 184).
And that’s it. The end of the novel. Guy Smith didn’t write anything else. Feels like a good ending, doesn’t it? All the loose ends wrapped up and neatly resolved. Except for one: the crabs never picked up a knife and stabbed someone. I don’t know about you, but if the cover image promises me a crab will use a knife to stab someone, I want the crab to use a knife to stab one.
I feel cheated.
Normally I’d demand my money back, but this book was free, so I guess my options are limited. I suppose I could write to Smith and demand my time back, though.