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  • Writer's pictureRob Freese

Michael Cole's Shredders- Pulp Horror Done Right!

When environmental activists flood Lake Carlson in Lorenzo, Michigan with a hybrid Bluegill/ Piranha (so the fishies can chew through nets and fishing lines), hard-nosed small town cop and single dad Royce Dashnaw is up to his badge number in floating skeletons stripped of all flesh and covered in bite marks. The deadly feeding frenzy is headed downstream where his daughter is with a babysitter on a party pontoon of potheads and hotheads.

What else do you need?

I had no idea Michael Cole was on the earth before I found the audio book for this superb Seafood Gone Wild novel. My life is now better knowing he is on the earth. By what I can find about him, he seems to be picking up the slack since Guy N. Smith passed away, with a long line of "nature amok" books available, including Megalodon: Bloodbath, Meat Eaters, Arachnoid and Tooth and Claw (shark vs giant crab) and many, many more.

This book took me back to my late teens and early 20s when my life was mostly made up of free time and I spent a lot of that time watching movies and reading. One of my favorite types of horror novels where those slim pulp novels from Signet dealing with some sort of animal species turning on man. Didn't matter what it was, I read them all. Rats, crabs, slugs, dogs, cats, jellyfish, piranha, pike, snakes, gilas, ants, spiders, cockroaches, leeches, pigs, locusts, blow flies, bees, birds, sharks, tigers, bears... As long as the "monsters" were fierce, and the book spent the first ten to fifteen chapters ripping secondary characters to bits until the authorities finally caught on to what was going on, I was there. Most of my favorites came from U.K. authors who knocked them out fast and furiously hoping to get some of that sweet, sweet Rats money that jump started James Herbert's career.

These novels were always perfect "movies for the mind." It was a joy imagining the mayhem in my mind as if created by Tom Savini or Stan Winston.

I know there is a limited appeal to this kind of pulp horror novel, but just like slasher flicks, I love them. Even poorly written ones are usually fun. I'll give any of them a chance.

Cole's Shredders is no exception. He's just updating the premise. Characters now use cell phones and laptops, discuss the merits (or the lack thereof) of the Marvel universe, the heroes are instantly relatable and use the climax of 1987's Predator to figure out how to deal with beasties. It is solidly written and the pace never lets up.

This is not a deep study into what makes a human being a human being. Nope. Shredders is more concerned with getting characters into the water so they can be devoured in gory fashion and I think that's all it needs to worry with.

What I admired about Cole's story is that he plays it straight. There's no real winking at the reader. No, "I know you know this story backwards and forwards, so I'm going to name the town Dante, Michigan. Hehe- isn't that clever?" (I mean, that's what I would probably do.) Nope. He writes it like he's the first guy to ever write about man eating piranha in a freshwater lake and that is probably the best way to present the material.

I opted for the audio book because I was stuck at work alone during a tornado and I had time to kill. It was enjoyable to just listen while I did my thing and I devoured the remainder of the book when I got home. (Much like the titular beasties.)

This is a perfect drive-in movie for the giant outdoor screen in your mind. I plan on checking out as many Michael Cole novels as I can find.

If you enjoy reading pulp horror, check out ICFH's first in their new line of movie novelizations, The Brain That Wouldn't Die 60th Anniversary Novelization! Ever wondered about Dr. Bill Cortner's medical background? Or How Jan Compton fell for the freak? Or what exactly happened to Dr. Kurt Daniel's dead arm? It's all in the novelization and more- with scenes to delight and disgust. The Brain That Wouldn't Die 60th Anniversary Novelization is available everywhere books are sold, including: Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million and Half Price Books !

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