“Cases don’t solve themselves.” That’s the motto of Private Investigator Dan Chambeaux, both before and after his untimely murder by an unknown assailant. The gunshot to the back of his head by a .32 caliber pistol left a fairly nasty exit wound on his forehead, but if he pulls his fedora down low, no one is the wiser.
As a newly risen zombie, Dan is determined to identify his murderer and bring him or her to justice, which is why he immediately lumbers back to his office from the graveyard. There he finds things just as he left them, so he continues his previous investigations with Robin, his lawyer-partner, and Sheyenne, his deceased girlfriend who is now a poltergeist settling in as the office secretary.
The caseload is a little stranger these days, ever since the Big Uneasy—a mysterious event occurring ten years earlier which loosed all manner of nightmare creatures into the real world. Now, one in seventy-five deceased will rise as a zombie, one in thirty will become a ghost, and it’s anyone’s guess who may be transformed into a werewolf, vampire, troll, or something worse.
There’s an uncertain truce between humans and their unnatural neighbors, and sometimes it requires an experienced detective to keep the situation under control. Dan takes his current condition all in stride, with matter-of-fact comments that recall the hard-boiled detective genre while also reflecting on the new supernatural reality. Whether the client is alive or dead, it’s all in a day’s work for Dan.
Sitting stiffly at my desk—these days I’m usually stiff, no matter what I do; the aftereffects of rigor mortis are a bitch—I pondered the loose threads of investigations under way…
Readers will be pondering as well—pondering and appreciating the amusing, strangely twisted sense of humor that Kevin J. Anderson puts on full display with this imaginative horror/detective mash-up. The one-liners, quips, and caricatures don’t ever stop and they kept me smiling throughout the entire book. When starting this story, I planned to write down bits of dialogue or scenes that were particularly funny. After a while, I realized I was copying entire pages verbatim, so decided to stop. It didn’t seem to prove anything to re-copy most of the book.
As entertaining as much of the dialog is, it’s the everyday situations changed by the “unnatural” populace that are the most fun to discover. Sometimes changes are small, like the local gym staying open 24 hours a day to accommodate the schedules of vampires and werewolves. Of course, one side of the gym is mirror-less for the benefit of the vampire clientele, while back in the locker room, gigantic blow-dryers help fully transformed werewolves dry their fur in a minimum amount of time.
Other changes reflect the specialized needs of the undead. It seems that the well-heeled zombie socialite now ignores beauty shops and salons, preferring instead to make appointments at a nearby funeral home. There, mortician’s putty and cosmetics, along with a fresh transfusion of embalming fluid, are all it takes to help any deteriorating zombie look as good as new.
Dan gets involved in a variety of bizarre capers, all of which eventually point to the identity of his murderer. Along the way, there’s plenty of madcap mayhem from a cast of characters straight out of your favorite B-movie horror flick. It’s a light read that’s a little corny at times, but always a lot of fun.
This is the first in a series featuring Dan, the detective zombie, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read from Kevin J. Anderson. I wasn’t sure how he would handle humor, but his sense of timing and delivery of punch lines shows that he knows a thing or two about comedy—maybe he does stand-up comedy on the side. If you’re in need of a good laugh, a likable zombie, and a great send-up of genre detective and horror fiction, then this entertaining mash-up will fix you right up.