Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: Dead Mann Walking by Stefan Petrucha

Book description:


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.

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...


Livebloods call us chakz-a mangled version of charqui, or, en ingles, jerky-dried meat.  If we're still oozing, whch is pretty rare, they call us gleets or juicers. Then there are danglers, but I'll leave that definition to the imagination.~Hessius Mann

It's like the holidays came early this year and every couple of weeks I am lucky enough to read a really fabulous book, one that I would easily recommend to every person that I know. Dead Mann Walking is exactly that kind of book, full of action and suspense, all wrapped together with an almost detective noir vibe. A real urban fantasy zombie thriller from start to finish.

It's apparent from the beginning that this zombie lore wasn't just being rehashed, instead Petrucha reinvents the zombie mythology with a world that makes chakz a believable member of society. Just like with regular folks, some are good, some are bad, and others just function better. In most cases, chakz do better when they have a purpose, again, just like with most regular people. It's a strange day indeed when you stop to contemplate the role that zombies might play in the day-to-day...but Hess makes you wonder.

The standout of the story is the backstory and worldbuilding. The method for reanimating corpses is a little bit Frankenstein with a whole lot of science fiction, something that doesn't necessarily seem all that farfetched. Scary, right? You can absolutely see how humans might try something like trying to reanimate corpses in a feeble attempt to right past wrongs. Humans trying to cheat death? Nope. Not us.

That's how we do things in Fort Hammer! Rush in where angels fear to tread, then suddenly realize that maybe the angels, being angels, had the right idea in the first place. Send a man to the moon? Sure! Bring peace to the Middle East? Why not? Raise the dead? Line 'em up!

I was surprised at how many subjects in the book are relevant to reality and modern day living. Things like chemicals in buildings that poison human beings, disposal of toxic waste into rivers that harm both the environment and people, civil rights, police brutality, and political corruption are just a few that I found to be woven seamlessly into the urban fantasy world. Who knew that Hess had the ability to enlighten readers to the things that really matter, like truth, justice, friendship...the American way!

Dead Mann Walking has a cohesive and tightly woven storyline that will keep you reading well into the night. Chakz, like any good zombie, are scary and fascinating in equal measure. The ick factor isn't too terrible, but at times I was a bit squeamish. Yep, once again, I am a big baby about zombies, but despite my fear and the threat of nightmares, this book was too good to put down.

Author website:

*Reviewed by Anna Dougherty
*I was sent the NetGalley review link by the publisher in exchange for a review.

1 comment:

Stefan Petrucha said...

A very gratifying review - thanks, Anna!