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Devour

Novel by Paul Adams 1981.

Dr Peter Arkwright, biologist and ichthyologist is called down to East Anglia where an unknown killer is active. Bodies are turning up at an increasing rate, all found in the water in shredded pieces. Arkwright soon surprises himself by agreeing with the police pathologist, who has been placing the blame on large fish. And when an dead eight-foot pike is discovered on ground near to the shredded corpse of a fisherman, it becomes obvious what the target is.

Make no mistake, this is an enjoyable enough read. The author works in Guy Smith territory, not just by plotting a carnage by nature story but by writing in a style that concentrates on character over plot. But however well his players are painted, Adams has constructed a surprisingly basic novel: individual chapters dealing solely with a designated victim or victims meeting their fate are interspersed with Arkwright discovering that the fish really are the killers. And that's it! There are no outside influences interfering with the plot: no vigilante posses roaming the Fens, no journalists causing mass panic, no environmental groups finding their points proven. Only the last chapter deals with any attempt to do anything about the situation, and then the author has Arkwright sermonising about pollution causing the whole problem, only to solve it by pouring radiation into the rivers! However smoothly Adams writes, he has no sense of depth whatsoever.


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