First published back in February of 1988, due to a relatively small print-run, ‘Crabs: The Human Sacrifice’ later became somewhat of a scarce rarity for Guy N Smith’s signature ‘Crabs’ series. This instalment forms the sixth full-length addition into the ever popular series.
Like within Smith’s previous novel, ‘Crabs’ Moon’ (1984), Smith begins the novel with inserting a quick passage to explain exactly where this next instalment falls within the overall chronology of the crabs series. Smith's opening statement is as follows:
“Whilst the giant crabs were slowly dying from cancer, as told in Crabs on the Rampage, a massive battle was still to be fought on the east coast where the crustaceans were to make one final attempt to overthrow Mankind. This is the story of that final battle set against the background of a macabre cult of crab-worshippers and human sacrifice - GNS”.
So the scene is set, its place within the crabs saga established, all that's left is for some gruesome click-click-clickety-click fun...
In Long Sutton a group of fanatical animal rights campaigners, led by the psychotic yet charismatic leader, Pete Merrick, have begun a campaign against those that they believe show cruelty to animals. However, the disturbing lengths in which Merrick has been pushing his small following of animal rights terrorists has become nothing short of first degree murder.
Poultry corpses that are awaiting their distribution for the Christmas festivities have been injected with strychnine by Merrick and his weak willed girlfriend Christine. Major Watterson is beheaded using some fine wire stretched between two trees as he heads up a fox hunt. Slowly but surely, Merrick’s lust for murder becomes more and more intense, with ‘animal rights’ now being used as a mere excuse to justify his bloodthirsty actions.
Meanwhile, the crabs are on the move again, as detailed in ‘Crabs On The Rampage’ (1981). Here we see our crustacean friends swarming up the River Nene, about a quarter of a mile down from Sutton Bridge. As the crabs surge onwards, Merrick witnesses a seemingly defenceless and dying crab, bombarded by navy firepower as it emerges from the water. A newfound burning rage begins to build inside Merrick.
Soon enough, Merrick forms the belief that the crabs are divine gods, exacting a revenge on Mankind for delivering the cancer that is slowly eating away at them. Merrick sees a whole new goal now - to help avenge the crabs! And in order to do so, he must start delivering human sacrifices to these cancerous crustaceans. And so Merrick sets to delivering an array of victims, each one having some form of cruelty to animals about them, which he provides as sacrifices to the dying crabs. One of these victims is eighteen-year-old Susan Delphore, daughter of the wealthy seal skin importer Morland Delphore.
Susan’s new boyfriend, a thirty-two-year-old ex-SAS named David Knight, learns of Susan’s horrific demise at the hands of Merrick and so swears he will take his revenge. Meanwhile, Merrick's despicable death-count is rising and his psychotic madness is now spiralling further and further out of control.
With the crabs mounting their final battle on mankind and Merrick delivering victim after victim to the mutant crustaceans, Knight has to use all his skills and training to bring the sacrificial madness to an end...
In this final full-length instalment into his signature ‘Crabs’ series, Smith takes on board the recent popularity for occultist novels by incorporating this dark twist to the crabs series. The novel takes on a peculiar edge for a crabs novel, placing more weight towards the terrorist actions of Merrick and his animal rights activists than that of the crabs' final stance. This is indeed a surprising angle to take with such a late addition to the crabs series, but does add a certain freshness and new interest value to the series as a whole.
Packed from cover to cover with blood-drenched gore and non-stop cancerous crustacean action, this unrelenting pulp horror tale keeps its utterly over-the-top storyline moving at a mile-a-minute. Indeed, Smith gets well and truly stuck into some down-and-dirty grotesque splatter; pushing the novel further towards the more repulsive side of pulp horror, in a clear attempt to sicken his readers.
The characterisation is pretty well-developed, with David Knight depicted as somewhat of a clichéd hero, whereas Pete Merrick is a magnificently exaggerated psychotic killer with a surprising depth to his complex personality. Merrick is certainly the main driving factor behind the storyline, with much weight put towards his dwindling rational side. Quite frankly, it’s really Merrick and Merrick alone that makes this novel what it is.
As the bloodspill increases, so the novel climbs towards the dramatic conclusion. Sadly there are no surprises or clever twists to be had in these final pages, just a satisfying ending to a thoroughly enjoyable pulp horror novel.
The novel runs for a total of 171 pages.
© DLS Reviews