So there’s a gunboat on the River Nene and life aboard it is getting pretty boring. Nothing happens, plus the crabs are dying from some sort of cancerous disease most of them seem to have. And so, just like every other highly trained professional military organization in the world, everyone starts slacking off and discipline is relaxed, because hell, why not?
Anyway, there’s a sailor on watch and he’s bored and doesn’t see the point to all of it, because presumably he’s forgotten about all of the hundreds of crabs that not only have developed a taste for human flesh, are territorial, and are able to dice the human body faster than a threshing machine, but are also able to get out of the water and kill you on land. Yeah. He’s just kinda ho-hum about all this.
Idly he wondered why those buoys were floating in midstream, something to do with the tides maybe or submerged mud banks. And when he looked again the buoys were not to be seen, which was very strange. But it was none of his business (page 76).
Dude. You’re on fucking watch, you blithering idiot! EVERYTHING IS YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!!!
I think it’s clear that we have an idiot plot on our hands. An idiot plot, for the uninitiated, is a plot that requires virtually all of the characters to be complete and utter idiots.
The boat suddenly starts sinking because the crabs have slit through the steel bottom of the boat. Those are Smith’s words, not mine. Apparently he expects us to believe that a crab’s claws are able to cut through solid steel. And not just a section of steel, mind you, but the slick underside of a boat, which is not only thick and strong but also curved, meaning there really isn’t a way to apply a claw to it and exert any sort of pressure. The crew abandons ship because there isn’t time to launch the lifeboat, which I have a hard time believing. Anyway, the crabs make mincemeat out of them, and then proceed upriver towards the suspension bridge. Someone radios ahead, but it doesn’t make any difference. The crabs arrive and proceed to…uh…well…they kinda proceed to destroy the bridge. By bludgeoning the supports with their bodies.
Okay. Let’s take a moment here. These biggest of these crabs are the size of cattle. I’ll roll with that. Let’s even give Smith the benefit of the doubt and assume that not only are they extremely fast (because crabs are known for their speed) but they are able to build up huge amounts of inertia while swimming underwater, and that their shells are strong enough to withstand being bludgeoned against a mixture of steel and concrete. I’d even assume this was a small bridge, but Smith specifies that it connects two highways, so we’re talking multiple lanes either way. I’m not sure if you’ve ever inspected a bridge’s supports up-close, but I have. They are massive. You could smash a motorboat into them going full speed and probably not even dent them.
Anyway. The bridge collapses, hundreds die, and the crabs vanish again.
We cut over to David Knight (dead Susan’s boyfriend) who is angry. He was grilled at the police station about Susan’s death. Turns out he has a sawn-off shotgun at his place, for emergencies. And he knows of the animal rights terrorist group that killed Susan, and is planning on exacting his own bloody revenge. Hmm. I’m guessing he’s an idiot, so he probably won’t succeed.
Next, we meet Alan Cryke, who is one of Pete’s minions. He thinks that Pete is nuts and wants to leave, but is scared shitless of Pete. Of course.
They’re out in the graveyard digging up a corpse. Eventually, they get it up, and it turns out to be the major that they beheaded so long ago with the razor wire. For the funeral, they reattached the head. Pete makes Alan cut the skull off the body, and then Pete karate-chops the skull in half, which is impressive. I’ll let you decide whether or not that’s actually physically possible.
Later, when Alan is home, he has a minor meltdown. He considers suicide, but being too much of a coward, he decides to tip someone else off so they can try and kill Pete. And the perfect person, of course, would be David Knight. He surreptitiously heads out to a pay phone, wraps a handkerchief around it to disguise his voice, calls David, and explains that Pete is behind everything and he’s the one who killed Susan. He adds that Christine should not be harmed, as she’s afraid that Pete will kill her, gives David Pete’s address, and hangs up. He then remembers that he has an appointment with Pete that very night and it would look suspicious if he didn’t show up. So he heads to Pete’s.
However, Pete isn’t there, he’s out drinking. Christine answers the door.
Her lithe body was clad only in a black bra with a garter belt to match, knee-high black boots gracing her shapely legs (page 95).
Hoo boy. You can see where this is going.
They talk, and briefly discuss killing Pete. His samurai sword is there and Alan thinks about lying in wait and stabbing Pete when he returns. And the talk about killing Pete arouses both of them, or at least that’s the vibe I’m getting from the sudden segue, and they start going at it with the vague intention that after they’re done banging, they’ll lie in wait and kill Pete when he returns. Because there absolutely, positively is no fucking way that Pete could possibly return home early from the bar and catch them bumping uglies, is there? After all, it’s not like he has an appointment to meet Alan here tonight…oh wait.
Anyway, they have sex, it’s awesome, and as they’re lying there in post-coital bliss Pete walks in. He picks up his sword, because it’s just lying there and Alan doesn’t bother trying to pick it up. Pete is not pleased:
“Fucking my woman is one thing, but soiling warrior steel is another!” (page 98)
Pete tells Christine to tie him up, and Alan doesn’t bother to resist, because…you know, I’m not really looking for reasons here. And honestly, being too frightened to move is one of the least ridiculously stupid things this book is asking me to swallow. Christine ties him up, and then Pete chops Alan’s penis off with his sword. [!!]
We cut over to David, who’s hanging out at the destroyed bridge thinking about killing Pete. Suddenly he notices a body dangling from the bridge, tied to one of the broken supports. As he watches, a crab appears, reaches up, grabs the body, and pulls it down into the drink. David instantly guesses that the body must have been the person who told David about Pete.
Which of course is true. In the next chapter we flashback to Christine and Pete stringing Alan up from the bridge. Remember, the bridge that just recently collapsed, that would still be surrounded by dozens of rescue workers and cleanup crews and the military? Yeah, apparently they’re able to just walk in there with a bleeding body and string him up over the river.
We cut back to Pete and Christine, back at their flat. Pete now knows that David is coming for him, so maybe he made Alan talk before they fed him to the crabs. Then there’s a weird ceremony where Pete rants, they strip naked, prick their hands, drip some blood onto a dead crab (regular size, from the supermarket), and finally get down with the bloody sexing. All in all, it’s a rather bizarre scene.
We meet a new character named Joe Parlane, and Smith gives us two and a half pages of backstory for him. It’s not really interesting and I’m not going to repeat it because I’m fairly confident he’s going to die, because every new character comes with an infodump and then promptly dies. The only important bit is that he’s broke and he has a fishing boat.
Then Pete and Christine show up and ask him to take them out, because it’s their honeymoon and all that. They haggle over prices for awhile and eventually come to an agreement. That night, they head out on the ocean, and once they’re well out, Pete asks Joe what something is that he sees over the side. Joe comes to look, Pete bashes him over the head and knocks him unconscious.
They put a life vest on Joe and tie a rope to him. Pete cuts a crude swastika into his cheek and then they toss Joe overboard and pay the rope out a bit before tying the rope off. Pete starts up the engine and they start chugging along, towing Joe with the blood slowly oozing into the water to bait the crabs.
Joe wakes up and tries to swim back to the boat, which is an absolutely brilliant idea. Try to outswim a motorboat. Instead of…I dunno…pulling yourself hand over hand back up the rope connecting you to the boat?
The crabs show up, kill Joe, and submerge. Pete is excited.
“Did you see it?” Pete’s shout was euphoric, crazed. “They came. I summoned them and they came! They know that we are their disciples, that we worship them!” (page 117)
He is nuts.
Next is chapter eleven, and we’re back with David Knight, who knows that the animal rights terrorists will be coming for him. He cleans his gun, thinks about killing the people who killed Susan, practices loading it quickly, and finally settles down to wait.
Sometime after midnight he hears creaking, and after a bit he smells petrol. He heads outside and tackles a guy who is about to torch his house. David drags him back inside and ties him up. He tortures the guy, whose name is Billy, with a lit cigarette, and finally chokes him out. When he’s unconscious, David unties him and gets ready to leave. However, when Billy wakes up, he knocks David down and takes off running. Smooth, David. Untie your captive who was sent there to kill you. There’s no way that could go wrong.
David catches Billy, eventually, but Billy is suddenly a babbling retard.
“Da…da…” Billy grinned, gesticulated aimlessly.
Only then did David Knight understand. The other’s mind had gone, temporarily or permanently he neither knew nor cared. All he knew was that he had an idiot on his hands, a youth with the mind of a three-year-old child (page 127).
Uh…okay then. So, is Smith saying that Billy just suddenly and randomly, out of the blue, had a psychotic break? Or is he saying that Billy had this happen to him after being choked out? Because if that was the case, why would Billy knock David sprawling with a surprise punch one minute and then be docile as a lamb the next?
David takes Billy back and stashes him in the car. David thinks that it’s the concussion at work, although I’m pretty sure concussions don’t make adults revert to age two.
They drive out to the mud flats near the ocean and David talks Billy into making a sand castle. Billy sets to work and David sneaks off and hides in the bushes until the crabs show up. Billy tries to run, but the crabs close in and devour him like a pack of velociraptors. Ah, raptors. Raptors: The Human Sacrifice would have been a far more entertaining book.
Anyway, David is quite pleased, and marks one off his revenge list for Susan Delphore. The crabs almost find him as well, but they don’t, and he takes off. The chapter ends on a delightfully dramatic note.
A few hours sleep and the hunt would continue. The crabs were not the only ones whose bloodlust was insatiable. There would be more human sacrifices. It was just a question of who the victims would be (page 134).
Dun DUN DUUUUUUUUN.