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Night of the Crabs

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1976.

In the wake of James Herbert's The Rats, there appeared unbidden a huge amount of blatant rip-offs. Some were good, some were abysmal, most were unoriginal in the extreme. This would appear to be one of the better ones, especially with the legend "In the tradition of The Rats" emblazoned on the front cover. What horror fans might find interesting is that this lay upon the desk of a NEL editor at the same time as Herbert's debut, for him to decide which to release as a hardback and which as a paperback. Possibly due to its larger page length, The Rats hit hardcover and the rest is history. Two years later, the crabs scuttled out from beneath Herbert's shadow.

The plot concerns Professor Cliff Davenport's two lab assistants (who also happen to be his nephew and his nephew's fiance´┐Ż), who disappear whilst on holiday swimming off Shell Island on the Welsh coast. Cliff chases after them to investigate and finds an army of giant mutant crabs, who live in an underwater cave, venturing inland with the full moon for some gratuitous people-pulping. The biggest problem is that even tanks seem to have absolutely no effect on the crabs' natural armour plating.

A short, sharp and highly enjoyable novel with a pincer-sharp sense of humour, it also happens to be the book that launched the success story of the one and only Guy N Smith. The fans wanted more, so he followed it with Killer Crabs, The Origin of the Crabs (a prequel), Crabs on the Rampage, Crabs' Moon, and Crabs: The Human Sacrifice; as well as short stories, badges, resin kits, t-shirts and fatally cute clockwork toys! Either blame it all on this one, or set it up on a pedestal and buy God a drink. Some may find it interesting that Shaun Hutson hates it! Of the other myriad Herbert rip-offs, the only one on a par with this is The Cats by 'Nick Sharman'.

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