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Literature / Cryptid Hunters

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Cryptid Hunters is a four-part series of young-adult fiction written by Roland Smith, beginning with the original book published in 2005 and followed by Tentacles (2009), Chupacabra (2013) and Mutation (2014). It is also a continuation of the three-part Jacob Lansa series, consisting of Thunder Cave (1997), Jaguar (1999) and The Last Lobo (2001), and the book Sasquatch (1998), set alongside Jaguar.


At its heart are twins Marty and Grace O'Hara, children of two photojournalists who go missing in the South American jungle. When their parents cannot be found, Marty and Grace are sent to live with their mysterious uncle Dr. Travis Wolfe, an anthropologist based on Cryptos Island. The two discover that their uncle is in fact a cryptozoologist, dedicated to finding the mysterious beasts of the world such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and other oddities. However, Wolfe ends up mounting an expedition to find the twins' parents himself, and plans to return them to their boarding school. Thanks to a mishap involving a chimpanzee, a miniature poodle, and the twins' own desire to find their parents, they are stranded in the jungles of the Congo. Now the two must survive the Congo, Wolfe must rescue his niece and nephew, and the mystery involving the war between Wolfe and Noah Blackwood, renowned wildlife tycoon, begins to come to light. After the first book, characters from the Jacob Lansa trilogy and Sasquatch join the cast.


This series contains examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: A lot of the supporting cast is absent during Chupacabra.
  • The Ace: A requirement for being a major character, it seems. Marty can make an extensive Middle Eastern dinner out of common kitchen ingredients at the age of 13, Ted is the modern age's da Vinci, the list goes on.
  • Advertised Extra: The chupacabra only becomes a major player during the final act of its' eponymous book, and the bigger threat will always be Noah.
  • Abusive Parents: While he did love his daughter, Noah was said to be far too controlling of his daughter which led her to elope with Wolfe.
  • All Myths Are True: Pretty much every cryptid is implied to exist, but Dr. Strand decided after a thorough sweep of the southwest United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, that the chupacabra really was a myth. Which delights Noah, as it means he gets to make one.
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  • Anachronism Stew: The books are a mesh of of the decade from 2005-2015. Cryptid Hunters has Marty and Grace marvel at the idea of data that would still be locked in a cybervault somewhere even after a device's destruction, which was uncommon but not unheard of in 2005. By Chupacabra, which only takes place a few months later, there are iPads and Noah is singing "Baby", and smartphones play a part in the plot. Made even worse by the fact that apparently Dylan was still a kid at the time of the Mount St. Helens eruption in the 1980's. Oy.
  • Arc Words: "Below deck".
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: At one point in the first book it is mentioned that Mokele-Mbembe survived because, at roughly the size of an elephant, it was "small for a dinosaur". Actually, the majority of dinosaurs were small, and even not counting birds the average dinosaur was no bigger than a human.
    • The Mokele-mbembe's portrayal as a whole is guilty of this. They're sauropods, but they're also carnivorous, and basically don't look or act anything like any real sauropod.
  • Ascended Extra: Ted Bronson is mentioned a few times in Cryptid Hunters but is never seen; he is properly introduced in Tentacles and becomes a major character.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: Mokele-mbembe, a living genus of sauropod, has apparently evolved to be a carnivore in the 65 million years since the dinosaurs' extinction.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Ted is very adept at martial arts, but admits in Mutation that it's not terribly useful when fighting hulking mercenaries.
  • Bad Boss: Noah is a horrible boss to any and all of his employees.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Why the bearcat and Nine warm to Wolfe and later Grace.
  • Big Bad: Noah Blackwood.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The entire cast shows up to save Marty and Grace from Noah and Butch in the climax of Cryptid Hunters. Later, in Chupacabra, Ted swings in to save Grace from Butch and rescue the group.
  • Big Eater: Noah enjoys his posh lifestyle by gorging at every meal on anything you could imagine (from fancy jams to seafood). Wolfe wonders how Noah can stay fit while eating like this. It's implied that Noah's genes have been tampered to increase his metabolism, preventing him from getting fat or unhealthy. Meanwhile, Noah's chief security man Paul is a 500 lb + slob who is fed the leftover food from the Seattle Ark everyday.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti:
    • Wolfe has met Bigfoot before and is convinced its Asian cousin, the Yeti, exists as well.
    • Dylan Hickock is introduced in Sasquatch, in which scientist Theodore Flagg wants to find and kill a sasquatch on Mount St. Helens and bring its body back as proof of their existence, while Dylan eventually meets the creatures in person and is able to help them evade Flagg and his followers.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Noah presents himself to the world as a kindly, generous billionaire who regularly battles pirates, saves the lives of his workers, conserves animals, you name it. When in reality, he's a greedy, sociopathic tyrant who only conserves animals so he can have them taxidermized in their prime.
    • Yvonne is also this with much less success than her boss.
  • Body Double: Noah's clone Mr. Zwilling, who handles day-to-day press activities for him.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Yvonne is killed.
  • Canon Welding: Jacob Lansa, after having his own series, makes a cameo in Tentacles, and his father's jaguar preserve is a major part of Mutation. Dylan Hickock, protagonist of the earlier book Sasquatch, is mentioned in Tentacles and joins the cast in Chupacabra.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story isn't exactly that lighthearted to start with, but it slowly becomes a grueling war between Wolfe and Blackwood that gets people killed.
  • Chupacabra: One is created by Noah in the third book. It's based on the Puerto Rican version of the beast, as opposed to the one said to resemble a canine in the southern regions of North America. It's actually a genetically-created mutation. Since Noah Blackwood's men couldn't find a real one, he decided to make one instead.
  • Continuity Nod: Chupacabra brings up Wolfe's theory that Noah would make a chupacabra and release it into the wild before capturing it to make a profit off of it. It's exactly what happens.
  • Cool Ship: The Coelacanth.
  • Cryptid Episode: Tentacles essentially inverts this, as the main focus is to capture a giant squid, a real animal in a series otherwise focused on cryptids. Mutation also focuses on the search for the O'Hara's and the final battle with Noah.
  • Demoted to Extra: A lot of the cast from the first two books suffers this as the series goes on; notably Laurel Lee, Phyllis, and the pets.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Tentacles" refers to both the tentacles of the giant squid eWolfe is hunting, and the tentacles of the mysteries surrounding Wolfe and Noah. Later, Mutation refers to not only the creatures Noah has cooked up in a lab, but to himself, a human clone, as well as what happens to the story when he reveals the truth.
  • The Dragon: Butch is this to Noah. Yvonne wants to join the inner circle, but fails too much to even get close. Only Butch and Mr. Zwilling are Noah's most trusted subordinates — because Butch is the only one who knows that Mr. Zwilling is a clone of Noah who handles publicity and interviews. Furthermore, Butch is the only one who even knows Noah's true nature and his cloning endeavors.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone fears Noah, be it because of his power, ability to get away with everything, or because he's their Bad Boss. Butch is also a threat who is taken seriously by the cast.
  • Entitled to Have You: Butch feels that Wolfe "stole" Rose away from him and swore revenge.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Noah really wanted a family and it's implied he really did want to spend time with his granddaughter, Grace.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Butch is implied to be horrified by Noah's genetic schemes and cloning, explaining his morbid fear of Mr. Zwilling.
  • Evil Old Folks: Noah.
  • Evil Poacher: Typically used as the villains of the Jacob Lansa and Cryptid Hunters books.
  • Expy: Paul is one of Dennis Nedry, being a Fat Slob, Villainous Glutton, The Evil Genius, etc.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: In the first installment of Cryptid Hunters, twin protagonists Marty and Grace O'Hara discover that they aren't actually twins; Grace is really Marty's younger cousin, the daughter of Marty's uncle Travis Wolfe and his late wife Rose (Wolfe gave Grace to his younger sister and her husband to raise after her mother's death, in part because he wasn't able to raise a child on his own and in part to protect her from Rose's father).
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Fluffy Tamer: Wolfe is able to establish a relationship with Noah's bearcat and Nine. Also, the kids learn to befriend the baby dinosaurs.
  • Giant Squid: Featured in Tentacles, in which the protagonists search for one off the coast of New Zealand.
  • Government Conspiracy: After Noah's death, the government agrees that it's better that his misdeeds go untold to the public.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Noah's parents were the ones who started the twisted cloning family business.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Butch is bitten in half by one of Noah's mutant crocodiles.
  • Handicapped Badass: Wolfe, who's missing the lower half of his right leg courtesy of a Mokele-mbembe and uses a prosthetic built by Ted Bronson as a replacement.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mr. Zwilling turns out not to be that bad a guy, and genuinely loves animals. He agrees to become Noah Blackwood, merge with eWolfe, and truly take care of wildlife after Noah dies. Nine and the bearcat also switch sides.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The bearcat, which has been befriended by Wolfe, turns against and kills Noah, but is fatally wounded by him before it rips his head off.
  • Historical In-Joke: One of the supporting protagonists of Sasquatch is the elderly Buckley Johnson, who eventually admits he is actually Dan "D. B." Cooper (who hijacked a Boeing 727 in November of 1971 and demanded a ransom of 200,000 dollars) to Dylan Hickock. Sadly, after jumping out of the plane with the ransom money, Johnson broke his leg when he landed, and so was unable to use his ill-gotten gain for its intended purpose: paying for cancer treatments for his son, who died before his father could return home.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Noah is killed by the bearcat, one of his own creations.
  • Humiliation Conga: Noah, Butch, and Yvonne all suffer one. Luther shuts down all of the Seattle Ark's security cameras, Grace sends bloopers of Noah's faked adventures to the public, Marty tricks Yvonne into believing she is to be fed to Nine, Butch gets his ass handed to him by Ted and Grace, and the gang makes off with the dinosaur hatchlings and three baby pandas. It comes back to strike the heroes HARD, as Noah rebounds on every single front, and Butch is particularly vicious towards the heroes in Mutation.
  • It Can Think: "Nine" the chupacabra is a highly intelligent, self-aware creature who plots horrific deaths for all who harm it.
  • Just Desserts: Marty, Luther and Dylan trick Yvonne into believing she is being thrown into a dark room with Nine to be killed and eaten, like she tried to feed them to it. In reality, it was a harmless pig she was trapped with. Later played straight with Butch, who is killed and eaten by the mutant crocodiles as he's about to kill Marty.
  • Killed Offscreen: Noah is mauled to death by his own bearcat — according to Wolfe, it tore his head off.
  • LEGO Genetics: How the chupacabra in Chupacabra and other creatures in Mutation are created.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Marty and Grace learn that they are not twins, but cousins. Grace is the daughter of Wolfe and her dead mother Rose, who was sent to be raised by Marty's parents as Marty's twin when Rose died. In a more bizarre version of this trope, Wolfe finds out to his disgust that his late wife Rose was in fact a clone of Noah, meaning he technically dated his own former father-in-law.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: One of Noah's projects involves creating these. The chupacabra is genetically engineered from bits and pieces of many different animals; the bearcat is half grizzly bear, half lion.
  • Myth Arc: The war between Wolfe and Noah and the mystery of the whereabouts of Marty and Grace's parents.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Noah's creations include giant alligators. One of them kills Butch.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Regarding Butch, see Sacrificial Lion. Regarding Noah, well, we've known he's a crazed, greedy psychopath since the beginning. What we didn't know until Mutation is that he's a depraved madman who's collecting animals from around the world to provide for his twisted genetic research that will help him create a family for him to control and manipulate, and one who will be as long-lived as him.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Grace plays up the part of a happy, content and ditzy girl when she allows Noah to take her. Partly to do some espionage, find out more about her mother, and to piss off Butch, who is by and large her babysitter.
  • Odd Friendship: FBI agent Steven Crow has one with Buckley "Buck" Johnson, the man he spent over twenty years hunting for his actions as D. B. Cooper. At the end of Mutation, he's given up trying to arrest Buck, having formally retired from the FBI, and the two are working at Dr. Lansa's jaguar reserve together.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Noah's death at the hands of his own bearcat is not depicted, only told later by Wolfe and Grace. Which is odd considering he's the Big Bad of the series…
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: Rose Blackwood, Travis Wolfe's late wife, turns out to be this for her "father" Noah. Wolfe is understandably disgusted at the idea. Violet, a second "daughter", may also be this to Noah, but it's never outright said.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Noah almost never does any dirty work of his own. Even when he does enter the field, Butch is the one doing all the work.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Featured in Sasquatch, and then in Cryptid Hunters and its sequels.
  • Punny Name: Dr. Seth A. Lepod, a squid researcher in Tentacles.
  • Reality Ensues: A major reason why more direct action can't be taken against Noah is because he's simply far too rich and powerful for the gang to get away with it. Wolfe even bitterly notes that Noah's been getting away with everything since day one.
  • The Reveal: Noah is in fact Heinrich Kurtz, a clone of the son of Nazis who discovered how to give human genes longevity. His whole collecting animals and cryptids has been a cover so he may collect DNA to assist in his genetic efforts to genetically forge a new, immortal family. Rose was one of his clones, and Mr. Zwilling is another who handles day to day press for Noah.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Raul, an ally of the Lansas first introduced in Jaguar, is killed to reestablish Butch as a credible threat during Mutation after his humiliating defeats in Chupacabra.
  • Secret Identity: It's revealed in Tentacles that Travis Wolfe's business partner Ted Bronson uses the false identity of Theo Sonborn to get around in public.
  • Ship Tease: Wolfe and Laurel Lee. Also, Grace and Dylan begin to take a shine to each other in Chupacabra which continues to develop in Mutation.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The pets of the heroes are gradually phased out of the series as it gets more serious.
  • Shout-Out: The Chupacabra using the air shafts, and its descriptions stating that it slinks and unfolds out of them, are highly reminiscent of the Xenomorph.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Grace takes one over the course of Chupacabra.
  • The 'Verse: The Jacob Lansa books, Sasquatch and the Cryptid Hunters series all take place in the same fictional universe. Buckley Johnson (from Sasquatch) appears in The Last Lobo alongside Jacob, and Jacob himself (along with some other supporting characters) appears in Tentacles. Dylan Hickock, also from Sasquatch, subsequently plays a major role in Chupacabra, and both Jacob and Dylan are featured in Mutation.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Wolfe has a moment of silent, largely obscured Tranquil Fury when Luther tells him how the heroes all started getting captured because they went looking for him after he flipped them the finger to go explore the Amazon.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Noah solemnly notes that a downside of living forever is that you outlive all of your loved ones.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Literal example with PD the teacup poodle, who got her name of "Pocket Dog" from the time she jumped into her owner's shirt pocket to avoid a snake. Ever since then, just hearing the word "snake" will trigger the exact same response all over again.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Noah says this almost word for word about Yvonne when she has a string of failures in Mutation. Wolfe brings up this trope to Butch later in the novel, claiming that once Noah has won his war with Wolfe, he will kill Butch as he will no longer need him. Knowing Noah's murderous Bad Boss tendencies, Butch does genuinely mull this over, but ultimately dies serving Noah.
  • You Killed My Daughter: The reason that Noah wants Wolfe and all his friends dead is because he blames him for Rose's death by dinosaur in the Congo.

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