It was love at first sight when I first discovered the work of Guy N. Smith. Gruesome deaths, pulp characters, giant monsters and all other sorts of horror tropes flowing from the pen of one man who knew what I liked in a horror novel: a short bloody page count. He's a man who wrote the book versions of the B-Movies of my teenage (and all years after) years, horror without pretension. Obviously, I discovered him through his Crabs series but the more I read his other works the more I appreciate his own unique brand of pulp monster mayhem. Though I love them now, I surely would have been head-over-heels if I had read them at 14. Ah, missed opportunities.
"Night of the Crabs" followed in the wake of James Herbet's "The Rats," but like any good paperback writer, once he had some success, he kept the pages flowing. So, more crabs and more other rampaging animals. Enter: Bats. Using the same template that made "Crabs" a success "Bats Out of Hell" is a different animal (pun intended) with different set up and execution.
The set-up is simple Professor Brian Newman is working on some science stuff and accidently creates a big 'ol nasty virus that lives instead of the bats he works with. Cue a nasty accident involving cheating on his girlfriend and a bout of being a real asshole (trademark Guy N. Smith) he knocks the cage over and lets the bats out. Doh. What comes next is MASSIVE TERRIBLE DEATHS told in short vignettes as England is overrun by the plague that the bats carry. All the while Brian and his lady-friend try and fail to come up with an antidote. The vignettes show us the mayhem and bloodshed that the bats cause. It racks up the body count but leave our main characters intact for as long as possible. Smart horror writing, right there.
The book almost turn into a post-apocalyptic novel as things keep getting worse and then it wraps up...or does it? I mean, don't go in expecting anything but a fun monster book and you'll be in for a nice couple of hours. Guy N. Smith's work grows on you, I remember being slightly confused by the fractured, sometimes abrupt style at first. But a couple of his books later I find myself craving it. It's the British version of the cheap horror paperback that is perfect for my tastes. Besides Guy N. Smith won a pipe smoking contest. What more do you want from an author?