Michael R. Linaker – Scorpion: Second Generation (Nel, Feb. 1982)
Nightmare black and hideously armed they came scuttling and swarming from underground. Ever hungry, ever vicious, they hunted down their prey, clawing, biting, stinging.
The scorpions have returned, this time grown huge, irradiated, mutant. Their claws could strip the living flesh of man or woman down to the white bone. Could snap and strip the bone into tortured fragments. Gouging, tearing, blinding, they held their bloodied victims while they pumped spurts of venom into the agonised body.
The scorpions have returned, and the stench of death seeped out over the countryside.
Cornwall, fourteen months after the events described in the previous book (The Touch Of Hell).
The pesky ones that got away have been busy breeding and now an army of 4ft super scorpions are closing in on the popular holiday resort of Port Pendall. It being the hottest summer on record as usual, the place is even more packed with tourists than ever.
P.C. Trevor Parkinson is investigating a series of recent crimes. There’s been a break-in at the butchers, the bolts plucked from the heavy door to the cold storage room and chunks of frozen meat ripped apart: Young Gillian Bampton hasn’t been seen since she took Timmy the terrier for a walk: livestock has been stolen from Needham Farm.
Trevor drives over to the farm where he’s met by old flame Linda dressed in a too-tight t-shirt and tiny shorts. She married his best friend, Jim, but now she’s wondering whether she made the right choice. Seeing as he’s not going to be back for hours, Linda decides to pick up where she left off with Trevor and they get down to business.
By Chapter eight, the souped-up scorpions are getting well full of themselves. The girl they dragged off in the opening chapter has evidently been picked clean by now and next on the menu are Eddie and Jock, two thugs who’ve just battered old Harry Butlin and ran off with the daily takings from his mobile snack bar. Then Terri – stark naked, of course – and lover Don are stung, sliced and diced – not necessarily in that order – at home.
Parkinson has a hunch that all the recent events are connected and DI Sam Braddock likes a cop who runs on intuition and gut instinct so he temporarily promotes him to plain clothes, meaning Trevor can now wear his sports jacket to work. Also on the case is Miles Ranleigh, entomologist, who’s just been tipped off about the situation. Evidently he’s the Clifford Davenport of the piece, having been instrumental in putting down the previous scorpion uprising at Long Point in Kent.
So far, Linaker has ticked all the right boxes, but then comes the incident at The Guillemot, a traditional Cornish pub, populated by cider fiends, “grizzled elders” who “would have snorted with contempt if anyone had tried to introduce beer in ring-pull cans.” The pub is devoid of jukebox and Space Invaders, and if you want something to eat go piss off to a restaurant. All well and good, but when the latest victim crashes blooded and mutilated through the glass doors, landlord Barney Daley rings an ambulance. Call me a purist but whats with the Florence Nightingale act without first checking the guy’s credentials? He could be an outsider or a poofy flash Londoner or anything, for crying out loud! The author redeems himself when the mangled stranger turns black in hospital and there’s more gruesome death when two blokes decide to explore a disused tin mine ….
God, but this is so The Crabs!
See also Vault’s Scorpion II thread