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: ''Jaw-dropping...terrifying...the most ferocious predator...''
THE PREMISE: Surfers, lab coats watch in horror as the Californian coast is menaced by the 60-foot Carcharodon megalodon (you can call her ''Meg'' for short...but not for long!)
THE AVENGERS: No cops (by now, they've learned to steer clear). Idealistic marine biologist Jonas Taylor; perky charter-plane captain Terry Tanaka.
BODY COUNT: We stopped tallying at a beastly 33
SEA LEGS: A tidal wave of Crichton-wannabe technojargon and one particularly ludicrous plot lurch (think Jonah and the whale) fail to hook the reader. But Disney's snapped up the film rights. See you at theaters next summer. D+