DEAD MANN RUNNING (Hessius Mann #2)
by Stefan Petrucha
RELEASE DATE: 4 September 2012
FORMAT: Paperback, 352 pages
GENRE: Horror, Zombie
Either I’m stubborn, or it’s rigor mortis, but being dead didn’t stop me from being a detective or finding my wife’s killer. But it’s tough out there for a zombie, and lately it’s been getting tougher. These days the life-challenged have to register and take monthly tests to prove our emotional stability. See, if my kind gets too low, we go feral. I’ve been feeling a little down lately myself…
So when a severed arm—yeah, just the arm—leaves a mysterious briefcase at my office, my assistant, Misty, thinks figuring out where it came from will keep me on track. But this case goes deeper and darker than I imagined, and my imagination gets pretty dark. Turns out the people after it know more about my past life than I can remember, and even more about what I’ve become.(Goodreads)
The second instalment of the Hessius Mann series starts with our favourite detective zombie in the doldrums. Mandatory testing of all chakz means life has changed not just for Hess but for all the undead and as a result the detecting business has been slow. Added to this his zombie lady love Nell, has gone back to her villain of a boyfriend, Colby Green. Life looks like it’s about to go feral when a severed arm delivers a briefcase to his door. Yes, you did read that right… a severed arm delivered a briefcase to his door! In the briefcase are four mysterious vials of liquid and it’s not long before the arm takes off and the briefcase is in hot demand.
Car chases, bullets and flying ninjas later and Hess finds himself on the case whether he wants to or not after Misty gets kidnapped and forced her back into the clutches of her drug addiction. He is left with only one clue which was etched in metal by the remains of the hand that delivered the briefcase. The clue is pretty small… just one one word – Kyua. Who or what is Kyua? None other than the god of the zombies, of course. It’s not long before Hess finds out if the road to zombie heaven is paved with good intentions or just a lot of body parts.
Petrucha brings back a few of my favourite characters from Dead Mann Walking including Tom Booth, the cop who was having an affair with Mann’s wife and still thinks Hess killed her; Jonsey, the former motivational speaker now undead rights campaigner and still making speeches… as long as they aren’t very long or too motivational and of course; Nell the former stripper and now TV’s only zombie celebrity. He also introduces a few new characters that keeps Hess busy and mostly in trouble including the ‘raggedy’ who Hess aptly nicknamed Bad Penny and Dr Maruta, the wife of the doctor who invented RIP (Radical Invigoration Procedure). Dr Maruta has died and the mystery of whether he was murdered and by who gets all tangled up in the hunt for the owner of the briefcase, the severed arm and Kyua.
DEAD MANN RUNNING is considerably darker than the previous novel but peppered with some very funny one liners, mainly from Hess. Petrucha also really develops the relationship between Hess and Misty despite the fact they aren’t together for a majority of the novel, which makes up for some of the scenes that have you hoping you never see a piece of beef jerky ever again! Petrucha also focuses more heavily on the themes of exclusion, prejudice and persecution with the Chak Registration Act forcing all chak to be registered and tested, with those that fail the tests are sent to concentration camps. The descriptions of some of the zombies and the ‘ life’ they are forced to lead were a bit gross especially the ‘raggedies’ who are basically children that were brought back and then subsequently abandoned when their parents weren’t able to accept their ‘undeadness’. Just when you think you might go feral yourself Petrucha lifts the mood with some truly funny dialogue or a delightfully twisted plot development.
Overall, Petrucha has created a set of undead characters that you really end up caring about, in some cases more so than the livebloods. It is a superlative murder mystery that has you guessing until the very end. The plot transitions very well from Dead Mann Walking and has a great lead into a future novel. My only concern is whether Hess has enough crazy glue and bleach on hand to make it through any more adventures.
I loved DEAD MANN RUNNING. Petrucha has the unique ability of creating a story that has you laughing and feeling a bit sick all at the same time. This is the perfect mix of ‘who dunnit’ and horror. Like Dead Mann Walking, I was kept guessing what was going to happen until the final pages, which is the sign of a great mystery writer as I almost always guess well in advance. This gets a low scare score but more than makes up for it on hilarity and zombie action. Don’t miss out on the further adventures of Hessius Mann – Zombie Detective!
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Dead Mann Walking
- Dead Mann Running
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