For 300 million years they have existed unchanged - furtive insects scuttling through the shadows. Till modern man began to destroy his environment ...
They came the fatal night when a vicious murderer died before he could burn his latest victim.
Ravenous cockroaches devour the corpse, and develop a new craving - for human flesh. Mutating into savagely efficient killers, they prey on the young, the old, the drunk, the injured. Undetected. Unstoppable.
Eventually two scientists guess the truth, but no one will believe them - until a chilling disaster strikes!
And even then the nightkillers have an unsuspected weapon ...
Or Spiders/The Web but with cockroaches.
Approaching page 50 and no hint of a plot, but it's certainly shaping up to be a squirm and vom fest. Serial killer Mike Walters murders an unidentified prostitute in the basement of an office block near the docks. While he's bashing away at her with a hammer she gets in some decent jabs with a knife. Badly wounded, he dumps her body in a bug-infested coal bin then staggers off to Plaistow and East London Cemetery to make sure his dead mother is still under the soil. He bleeds to death.
For George Jenkins, this is a result as he gets Walters' job which means he now has somewhere to bring his mistress, Sandra. But when he tells her he's leaving his wife and kids for her they row, she bangs her head and he runs off for a doctor. The cockroaches deal her an agonising, horribly protracted death. Ditto old Nettie, a homeless drunk who first suspects that she's having an attack of the D.T.'s.
I'll say this for him - Lewis doesn't scrimp on the grisly deaths. After the rather harrowing demise of a little boy and yet another tramp (male this time, although his fate isn't lingered over with anything like the loving care of poor Nellie's) we see the first semblance of a storyline. Social worker Sally Thomson and saintly journalist David Forrest decide that either a psycho or a pack of wild animals are targeting down-and-outs. David, somewhat fortuitously, is working on a book, The Last Battle, with his old University chum Grant Edwards, an entomologist, concerning the threat posed to mankind by insects. Somehow it takes them forever to figure that their scaremongering has much relevance to the here and now! They approach surly Chief Inspector Peter Maitland of Leman Street nick with their theory - he's tight-lipped about the police investigation but says something to the effect that "next you'll be telling me that monster bugs are responsible" and they all have a good guffaw about that.
Some highlights: the aforementioned death of a little boy and a truly creepy sequence when David is trapped with a ghastly corpse in a roach-infested bunker by a bunch of double-crossing tramps. One terrible lowlight: the entirely gratuitous rape of a lead character by a pair of skins after East London has been evacuated: And finally, the most jaw-droppingly outrageous ending which sees the entire killer cockroach army wiped out by .... No: I can't bring myself to spoil it for those who wish to investigate further.
Almost, but not quite in the same league as the fabled Edward Jervis abomination The Maggots!
Steve: thanks a lot!
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
This books a gem. Ive a lot of love for this and its companions from the same author. Richard Lewis is prefered to all those other pulpy novel writers like Halkin and Ronson in My opinion. Loved the Spiders books.