An aura of evil emanated from the crab, a force that was far in excess of its physical atrocities. It was a reincarnation of the Ancient Mariner, compelling an audience.
It was hunting - for human victims!... Once again the giant crabs had proven their supremacy over mankind. This was just the beginning.
She reached down and fondled him, her fingers demonstrating their expertise even on a morning following a night which had seen one of the most terrifying battles in history.
Mercifully he passed out before the razor-sharp incisors which had amputated both his legs found hold on his neck and beheaded him.
Compared to two other pulp horror '70s classics that I enjoyed, Killer Crabs is unremarkable. Unlike The Manitou, which has the utter conviction of Masterton at the helm no matter how ridiculous the story gets, or The Rats, which has Herbert's colorful vignettes of English life, Smith's novel just sorta hangs around, going through the motions with a desultory air. The plot is banal simplicity itself, the "characterization" de rigueur: the fearless, seasoned fisherman, the oversexed female with a secret, the ex-con with a secret, the big-game hunter with a secret, the scientist with the hot wife (but of course!). There are a couple cool moments however: a drunk discovers a severed head; various politically-incorrect sex scenes; an exploration of a coral reef cave that houses not the monster crabs but dozens of poisonous sea snakes. That was creepy.
Original UK edition, New English Library, May 1978
Alas, Killer Crabs is not particularly gripping, with no surprise or "what the fuck" moments; it is more by-the-numbers than a cult classic should be. If you can find it for cheap, as I did - the Signet '79 edition is readily available, but the Dell reprint is pricey - pick it up if you like creature horror. Of course, my lack of enthusiasm about the novel will not stop me from picking up more of the series when I can, if only for the cover art alone.