Daaah-dum. Daaah-dum. Dah-dum, dah-dum, dah-dum. It's been 20-odd summers since we first shrieked with glee at the sight of that marauding fin. Enough time has passed for sharks to start stalking our shores anew...or so figure the two publishers that have trotted out new, camera-ready thrillers about these primordial sea creatures. What with the dinos and all not to mention a jaded, post-Discovery Channel audience they're looking at a much tougher climate than when our beloved Jaws made its splashy 1974 print debut. But hey, it's hot out. Books like this are meant to be swallowed whole. Question is, do they have a prayer of measuring up to the still-in-stores, surprisingly deep original? Take in the following sound bites.
THE PROMISE: ''A creature that is terrorizing the waters...a race against time...and a race toward death''
THE PREMISE: The military watches in horror as the Mississippi Gulf Coast is menaced by the 50-foot Carcharodon megalodon (ancestor of the great white)
THE AVENGERS: Brave, queasy cops James L. Broderick III and Jonas Stark; idealistic marine biologist Alan Freeman; sassy charter-boat captain Carolyn Haines
BODY COUNT: A comparatively heartless 10
SEA LEGS: Though meticulously researched, impromptu science lectures disrupt the swampy story. And the alligator is a bit much: one razor-toothed enemy's quite enough, thanks. Closing in soon on NBC. C-