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Crimson Romance
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dead Mann Walking by Stefan Petrucha

Publisher: Roc, The Penguin Group
Pages: 352

(Released: October 4, 2011)

From the Cover:

After Hessius Mann was convicted of his wife's murder, suppressed evidence came to light and the verdict was overturned...-...too bad he was already executed. But thanks to the miracles of modern science Hessius was brought back to life. Sort of.

Now that he's joined the ranks of Fort Hammer's pulse-challenged population, Hessius attempts to make a "living" as a private investigator. But when a missing persons case leads to a few zombies cut to pieces, Hessius starts thinking that someone's giving him the run-around-and it's not like he's in any condition to make a quick getaway... 

Hessius Mann can't catch a break (and maybe he doesn't want to...first aid involves super glue and thread).

First, his wife has an affair with his boss. He knows because pictures show up in his email, displayed in all their glory and living color. Hess rushes home to confront his wife and finds her beaten to death. Everyone knows he has a temper, and when the PD, along with his boss, arrives on his heels, Hess is accused of a murder he swears he didn't commit.

After he's relieved of his mortal life, it's found that the police (mainly his boss, Thomas Booth) suppressed DNA evidence at his trial. Too bad he's already in his grave. But, through the wonder of modern science and without his permission, he's brought back and into a new existence. An immortal (sort of) existence, one of the walking dead, or Chakz (which means jerky...dried meat) as they're referred to, and trying to make a living as a private detective (the PD doesn't employ chakz cops).

Hessius has to admit, it's damn hard to be a PI. See, his kind doesn't remember so well, nor do they move as easy, or frankly, smell as nice as a liveblood. He's luckier than most, he can almost pass for the living, he's one of high functioning few. When reanimation came to be, loved ones were randomly brought back, that is until a few went feral, eating a liveblood is strictly forbidden. Then, the discrimination started.

When William Turgeon steps into his office with a missing person case, he figures he's struck gold, a healthy payday for a chak. Only this missing person is also a chak, Frank Boyle, and it gets stranger from there. Much stranger as his investigation continues.

Dead Mann Walking by Stefan Petrucha is the first in the Hessius Mann Series. It's the story of what happens when, through the magic of science, the wrongly executed are given a second chance at... a kind of life. When Hessius Mann is reanimated, it's to find himself out of a job and with more enemies than he can count (which isn't be very high anyway, not with his new swiss cheese memory). There's also the segment of the population (which is almost everyone) who hated the chakz, they want them segregated from society, and would like them all destroyed. Including Hess Mann. William Turgeon offers him a chance to help another of his kind. So, his search for Frank Boyle begins. But then a strange thing happens, he starts to unravel a tangled mystery. Several chakz have gone missing, just like the one whose head is the only thing missing piece with it's body parts scattered throughout the desert. And Mann can't get it out of his head. Can the reanimated were really die? It haunts him, like a nightmare, only nightmares can make chakz feral, it's a thin line to walk, and he's kind of clumsy anyway. The one thing that keeps him grounded is his assistant, an ex-addict, Misty (she also keeps him patched up). But, Turgeon may not be who he says he is and neither is the billionaire who has a weird fascination for chakz.

Dead Mann Walking is a great beginning to a new zombie series, a zombie series with a twist, a noir twist (also a great twist on the title in more ways than one). Stefan Petrucha creates a near future world where science as achieved what only God has been able to far. Science allows for those who shouldn't have died to be given new life. The only trouble is that it's a temporary fix because, eventually, all chakz goes feral, it's just a matter of time. Then there's the damage to body parts that have a tendency to break or fall off, you know, like ears and noses, maybe even fingers and toes. Petrucha delivers his tale with one line jabs, generous amounts of humor, and horrific as well as graphic details (I mean, cutting the rot from some chak's body parts or bleaching the mildew away..., kind of makes it all too real). And then there's the bad guy and how he rids himself of chak he really doesn't want. It's a must read for urban fantasy fans and horror fans alike, and even room for the adventurous noir or mystery/thriller/chiller readers willing to take a chance. Though it contains little true romance, it has a romantic feel to it, Hess speaks with romance in his words. It's not your typical zombie, Night of the Living Dead, type of story. I very much enjoyed it and can't wait for the next in the series. 5 out of 5 fairy kisses for this reader.

I received my copy for review from the author, Stefan Petrucha. All opinions expressed are my own.


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