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Novel by Edward Jarvis 1983.

OK, let's lay it on the line. Pestilence is short, with a standard start, and some really bad dialogue. Technically it's absolute garbage, so why do I award it a decent eight out of ten mark? In one word: 'humour'. This may be worthless as a nasty novel, but as a send up of the whole nasty genre, this almost outdoes Monty Python in places.

Worldwide reports are coming in of a strangely regular seismic disturbance in the Mariana trench and small animals disappearing near water. Cats are decapitated in empty swimming pools, ducks dive never to surface and Garry Marshall loses two fingers while clearing out his drains. Luckily Marshall is an ex-journalist who soon gets rehired by the news business to find out just what the hell is going on. He ends up running CHOP (Co-ordination and Help to Overcome Pestilence) and promptly discovers the culprit: giant lampreys from a prehistoric age brought back to the surface by illegal Soviet atomic weapon tests.

Jarvis almost runs out of superlatives to describe the size of his protagonists, and even makes out that Canvey Island is somehow worse for mankind than a worldwide plague of immense man-eating, ship-eating lampreys. To top everything, what is an incredibly fast paced, apocalyptic read a la the author's later Maggots, the entire plot is briefly interrupted for a historical tour of Rye! Score two for plot, five for the writing and that eight for pure enjoyment.

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