First published back in June of 2013, Scottish author William Meikle’s novel ‘Crustaceans’ was a tribute to the highly-revered ‘Crabs’ pulp horror series by prolific author Guy N Smith.  The book was originally conceived as a potential collaboration with Smith, although ended up being written solely by Meikle, using Smith’s giant killer crabs as the backbone for the tale.

DLS Synopsis:
When a dead sperm whale was found along the Boston shoreline by a dog walker, no one would have envisioned the devastation that was to follow.  Emerging from a split in the vast mammal’s belly, a giant crab clawed its way out of the rotting blubber, butchering the three researchers investigating the whale’s arrival on the beach.

The US army are quickly summoned to the location, with the government already fearing the worst.  Could this be the arrival of the giant crabs who’d wreaked murderous havoc all those years ago?  Furthermore, if what they’d seen could be believed, as crazy as it was, but the crabs seemed to be hitching a ride inside the stomachs of whales.

Elsewhere, seasoned crabber Joe Parker was out in Bellyport Bay along the Long Island shoreline.  He’d just pulled in a crab half again as big as anything else he’d ever caught in the Bay.  The moment he had the crab out of the water, it started attacking everything in its vicinity.  Nevertheless, knowing the vicious bastard was of an exceptional size, Parker decided to take the crab back to his hut to hold it in a large empty fish tank he’d bought for setting up an aquarium, but never got round to using.

However, within two weeks since he’d captured it, the crab had pretty much outgrown the tank.  Porter knew he had to do something with the vicious beast sooner rather than later.  Luckily he already had an idea of what he was going to do.  There must be a good number of zoos that’d be interested in having a crab of this size.  It was a plan which could end up being quite lucrative for Porter.

Meanwhile, more whales had washed up along the nearby beaches.  A SWAT team headed up by Colonel Stark is sent in to handle the situation.  On the orders of the Homeland Security, marine biologist Shona Menzies is brought along with them in order to assess what the situation.  However, what Menzies discovers is far worse than they thought.

The giant killer crabs are back.  And what’s more, they’re headed for the dense population of Manhattan…

DLS Review:
Click-click-clickerty-click!  Oh yes my pulp-loving-friends, this novel is every bit as good as it sounds.  Meikle is a big fan of Guy N Smith’s gloriously over-the-top pulp horror work, in particular, the Godfather of Pulp Horror’s signature ‘Crabs’ series.

Here we have Meikle offering up a magnificent tribute to the ‘Crabs’ books, with his very own contribution to the highly-revered series.  There’s nods to Smith’s books all over the shop, with references to past attacks and events thrown in to give the story its place in the grander scale of things.  The style of writing Meikle’s adopted in the tale is also in itself a homage to the great man himself – utilising all those crab sounds and references that have become synonymous with the series.

For those not already familiar with Smith’s ‘Crabs’ series, you should expect unashamedly over-the-top 1950's B-Movie style creature feature horror with lashings of gore, rampaging giant crabs, and rugged characters flung into ludicrously perilous scenarios.

Interestingly, the skeleton of the plot bears numerous resemblances to James Cameron’s sci-fi horror ‘Aliens’ (1986), only set largely within the extensive sewer and subway tunnels below New York, and with the Xenomorph’s replaced by giant flesh-hungry killer crabs.

The tale is constructed utilising two parallel running storylines – one following Marine Biologist Shona Menzies and the SWAT team she’s accompanying, and the other storyline following rugged crabber Joe Porter as he tries to earn some serious cash from the juvenile crab he caught.  For the vast majority of its length, the story jumps between these two storylines, keeping the pacing tight and hurtling along at a veritable mile a minute.  The action is explosive throughout, with both threads delivering the adrenaline-pumping goods through a seemingly constant reel of mayhem.

That said, in the latter third-or-so of the tale, when the story shifts to the underground sewers and a disused subway station, the killer crab carnage ramps up several thousand notches, with the giant crabs getting to some twenty-five feet in diameter.

All through this Meikle doesn’t hold back in piling on the human butchery.  Heads, limbs and torsos are torn to shreds at every opportunity.  On the crowded streets of Manhattan the crabs turn the concrete jungle into an absolute bloodbath, reminiscent of the slaughter witnessed in ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976) and then again in ‘Crabs On The Rampage’ (1981).

The finale does all the pulpy crab carnage that preceded it proud.  It’s tense, explosive and packed to the rafters with over-the-top crustacean slaughter.  Furthermore, there’s absolutely no petering out with the intensity, rather Meikle keeps his foot down on the accelerator until the very last page is turned.

For high-octane, over-the-top crustacean carnage, with some of the biggest killer crabs we’ve encountered to date, you really can’t go wrong.  It’s so pulpy and gruesome that you’ll find yourself mesmerised by the pandemonium and slaughter, as the mayhem erupts all around you.

A homage worthy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the original series.  Willie mate, you’ve done Guy and us all proud.

The novel runs for a total of 190 pages.

© DLS Reviews



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