In Lee’s (Him, 2017, etc.) thriller sequel, a group of people who miraculously survived an encounter with a huge, prehistoric crocodile set out to find and stop the creature.
Texas State University student Katie Marshall is suddenly a rich woman, as her late father, Clint, left her a sizable inheritance, including assets from a couple of oil companies. She decides to use her wealth to track down the “Aquasaurus”—the media’s moniker for a giant crocodile that she and her friends faced in Lee’s 2016 novel of the same name. Clint’s airplane and boat are now at her disposal, as is pilot and driver Hootie Johnson, his former “right-hand man.” Katie assures her pals Rita Martin, Jesse Perrine, and Jake Haw that she only wants to find the crocodile and then contact authorities to handle it. According to news reports, the Aquasaurus is in Mexican waters, so that’s where Katie and company go. Another survivor from the previous book, earth science professor Tom Morrison, is about to publish a story in Discovery Magazine, but the editors want new pictures of the Aquasaurus to accompany the article. Tom promises them “clear and close-up” photographs and recruits his student assistant, Mark Carter, to accompany him on a trip to Mexico. When the professor learns of the other group’s undertaking, he opts to secretly follow them in lieu of teaming up. This is a potentially dangerous decision, as the area is also populated by pirates and drug runners. And, of course, there’s a massive reptilian creature out there, as well, which has the ability to set traps for its prey.
As in the series’ first installment, this novel favors suspense over gory monster attacks. In fact, Lee merely implies much of the violence, and he also keeps the story free of obscenities or explicit sex. Most of the previous novel’s characters return, and the author smartly zeros in on the evolving relationships among them. For example, Jake, who’s been seeing Katie romantically for a few years, is jealous of her easygoing banter with much-older Hootie, while Mark’s periodic obtuseness vexes the professor. Occasional moments from the creature’s perspective generate effective suspense, as readers often know how close the Aquasaurus is to the protagonists—even when they don’t. And the titular croc isn’t the only thing that will put readers on edge; for instance, Hootie is worried about a “device” that Clint left on the boat, and he’s anxious when officers board the vessel and examine the mysterious object. There’s also a run-in with another colossal reptile, as well as sea lice, which hook tiny spines into human skin. This spotlight-sharing does somewhat diminish the presence of the crocodile, especially as there are so few scenes of its attacks. Lee describes the Aquasaurus realistically, and its most frightening features tend to be those that are shared by regular crocodiles. Nevertheless, it proves to be utterly terrifying in an inevitable clash in the final act.
An exceptional follow-up with a menacing monster and characters worth rooting for.