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Guy N. Smith wrote many books in many genres, though mostly fictional works in the horror genre. However he will perhaps always be best known as the creator of the Crabs, giant crustacean monsters right out of the days of the fifties monster movies but conspiciously close to home. They first washed up on the Welsh beaches in 1976's Night of the Crabs. The series currently runs to seven novels, plus a number of short stories, a graphic novel and even a cute clockwork toy.
At least two further novels reached synopsis form, along with Crab Fury, which became that graphic novel. There may well be more as the Crabs were always a marketable commodity. Click, click, clickety-click! Crabs: The Flesh Eaters dates to the Black Hill days and would have run 60,000 words in length.
Professor Hans Vogt is in charge of a marine experimental laboratory on the west coast of Scotland. The Press have vilified him for some experiments on live shell fish which he is reported to have carried out. As a result the laboratory is the victim of an Animal Rights raid. The places is wrecked, set on fire and Professor Vogt is injured. He seethes with fury because a valuable experiment has been ruined, one which would, if it had been successeful, have given him a place in history. Shortly afterwards he hears of a small bird sanctuary that has had to close for financial reasons and he buys it; ten acres of land with a wire mesh surround and a small lake. This will be his retreat, a place in which he can carry on his work incognito.
The devilish giant crabs have been wiped out by a deadly cancer (see Crabs On The Rampage). However, Hans Vogt comes across two of them washed up on a rocky shoreline, young ones about the size of small dogs. He takes them secretly back to his new abode and thrills to the thought of an exciting challenge. Is he skilful enough to cure them of the disease? And if he succeeds would he be able to breed from them, create another monstrous strain of killer crustaceans?
His only companion is his young assistant Jane Hart who has stood by him. Jane is 23, attractive, but has never really got over the death of her fiancé two years ago. She, too, has become a recluse along with Hans Vogt. Together they try to save the pair of crabs, fighting against the cancer with modern science, a battle that goes on for weeks. Finally, the Professor is euphoric, they have won! The creatures will live, they will grow... and they will breed!
The crabs are confined in the lake which is surrounded by steel mesh and fed by a tidal creek. Conditions are ideal and there is also a heated aquarium section where they can live during the winter months. But nobody must know the secret of Dagon House for the authorities have bowed to public pressure to exterminate the mutant species which have wreaked havoc and death around the coastline since 1976. And then one day Hans Vogt has a called, an old colleague who has somehow tracked him down... Professor Cliff Davenport!
Vogt hides his impatience. This is the one man he does not want snooping about the place, the man who has been the scourge of the crabs ever since they first shambled out of the ocean bed. Davenport is given a conducted tour of the Dagon grounds. The crabs are lying low for the spawning season is nigh. But the keen eyed Davenport notices a huge claw imprint in the mud on the shore of the lake. A familiar chill runs up his spine but he does not say anything to either Hans Vogt or Jane. Surely it is impossible, the crabs were wiped out five years ago and yet... He senses that Vogt is eager to be rid of him. He must return secretly in due course and hopefully allay his suspicions. Or else unveil a terrible secret.
There is a nocturnal intruder in the grounds of Dagon House. Professor Vogt's savage Alsatian corners a man and at pistol point the Professor has no difficulty in recognising the prowler from recent photographs in the Press. Frank Innis has been released from a top security mental institution; convicted of rape and murder twelve years ago the doctors have declared him 'cured' and have instigated his release amidst a storm of public protest. Vogt takes his visitor inside; perhaps Innis is just the man he needs, a man strong and ruthless enough to preserve the secrets of Dagon House from those who might trespass here. As a result, much to Jane's horror, Innis is taken on as a 'minder'.
Hans Vogt witnesses the incredible spawning in his lake, the huge crabs now carrying their young up out of the water on to the small island. The night air is filled with their clicking. One thing worries him - is the mesh strong enough to contain these creatures? Also, can he acquire enough flesh to satisfy their hunger, to placate them. That task will fall on Frank Innis!
Sheep are stolen from nearby farms and thrown to the crabs. The waters of the lake turn crimson. But Frank Innis has other things on his mind, the crabs are of minor importance. Jane has kindled an almost forgotten lust and one night he creeps stealthily to her bedroom, forces his way in and rapes her. Hans Vogt hears her screams and is just in time to save her life. Innis is forced down to the lakeside at gunpoint and an age-old sacrifice takes place, behemoths coming up out of the water to claim their first meal of human flesh.
The crabs have tasted human flesh and blood and now they hunger for more. The steel mesh surround to the lake is twisted and buckled, it can't hold them back forever. Vogt knows the only answer is to keep the crustaceans happy with fresh meet but now he no longer has Innis to do his bidding. Jane is terrified, wants to leave, but the Professor tells her there is no way out. Dagon is like an impregnable bastion, an electrified fence and, even more dangerous, that killer Alsatian on the prowl in the grounds. She reads the madness in his eyes, knows that her boss has gone over the top. In his crazed mind he wants revenge on those who destroyed his old laboratory, hates the human race, and sees a way to conquer the world. She is a prisoner here, totally at his mercy.
Cliff Davenport has failed to gain entry to the Dagon grounds. He has climbed a hill overlooking the place and has a pair of powerful binoculars focused on the lake. Tonight the moon is full... Sometime after midnight he sees them, horrific beasts that come ashore and vent their fury on the fence that holds them back, throwing themselves at it in their desperation to gain freedom. Vogt appears, Judith helping him to drag something to the edge of the jetty, heaving it over the wire; a dead animal of some kind. The water foams, the crabs fight over this morsel. Davenport's worst fears are confirmed. Professor Vogt has bred some crabs and very soon they will be breaking out of their prison.
Vogt is angry with Jane over her pleas to flee this place whilst they still can. He dare not let her go. He would silence her by feeding her to the crabs except that suddenly he finds himself lusting for her, succumbing to feelings which for years his devotion to his work had nullified. Once again Jane is raped and left sobbing in her room. Professor Vogt has come to a decision - he will free the giant crabs, return them to the ocean where once again they can breed and ravage mankind. He will unfasten the mesh gate which seals off the creek from the shore.
Jane realises what the Professor means to do. She must stop him for the sake of civilization even if it means forfeiting her own life. In his study she finds the guns, also the switch which turns off the electrified circuit. As she hurries from the house she spies a car coming down the long drive, driven by Cliff Davenport. Even as he stops and gets out the vicious Alsatian is coming out of the nearby rhododendrons. Cliff takes the gun from her and kills the dog. They must hurry now if they are to stop Hans Vogt resurrecting the curse of the oceans of the world.
Vogt has reached the big creek gate, is already struggling with it. He shouts insanely at Davenport that the other is too late. But there is still time... Cliff empties the gun into Professor Vogt, sees the madman totter, fall bleeding into the water below where he is seized by gigantic pincers that rip him apart.
They have stopped him with only seconds to spare and even now they must hurry for the buckled fence surely cannot hold out any longer. A hurried phone call by Cliff Davenport to his old colleague of the Barmouth days, Grisedale, has a helicopter on the scene within the hour, fitted with an agricultural spray loaded with paraquat. It was this weedkiller which destroyed the crabs once before and now it puts paid to them once again. The threat is over but has it been eradicated forever?
Last update: 4th June, 2019