Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Dead of Night" by Jonathan Maberry

358 pages

Jonathan Maberry, master of zombie lit, is back with yet another intriguing story. Desdemona Fox ("Dez" to her friends) is a beautiful army veteran-turned-rural cop with a pretty messed up life. Desert Storm made her bitter and damaged, so she uses sex and alcohol to numb herself. Her partner, JT, is an older cop who loves her like a daughter and therefore worries about her a lot. Despite the drama in Dez's life, her job is relatively calm because Stebbins County is so small. That all changes suddenly on one particularly bizarre crime scene--one at which the victims don't seem to be staying dead. In fact, they are starving for human flesh, and their numbers are growing. As the mayhem spreads, it becomes clear that Dez and JT are dealing with something out of nightmares. Dez's ex, reporter Billy Trout (who happens to still be in love/a bit obsessed with her), tracks down the truth: a prison doctor injected a death row inmate with something that was supposed to keep him alive and conscious but paralyzed in the grave. Obviously, something went terribly wrong. When the inmate's body was removed from prison, he woke up, setting off the horrifying series of events. The truly devastating news, however, is that it seems there are people in the government who were involved with the doctor's project, and they will do everything in their power to cover their tracks.

The Maberry books I've read most recently are young adult titles "Rot and Ruin" and "Dust and Decay," and he has such a great teen voice that I'd forgotten how well he does darker adult novels as well. In my opinion, "Dead of Night" certainly lives up to the high standards of his other work. Maberry does a great job developing his characters by showing rather than telling. I liked and related to the them almost instantly, even Dez with all her flaws. I also enjoyed the action; it's written so clearly that I could almost see it, like a movie. My favorite thing, though, is that this book made me think, as do many of Maberry's novels (and some other zombie authors as well). I was left wondering who is worse: the actual zombies, or the politicians and scientists who create them and then try to deny their responsibility. We'd like to think that no government would do such a thing in real life, but history has shown that it does happen. On a more personal level, it's interesting to speculate what would happen to individuals in such a massive crisis. As other disasters have shown, desperate times bring out the best in some and the worst in others. Maberry realistically portrays characters from both camps, in a pretty darn entertaining way. I say this is a must-read for zombie lit fans.

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