Mx3 Review: Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

  • Paperback:368 pages
  • Publisher:St. Martin’s Griffin; Original edition (October 25, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 031255219X
  • Source: Publisher

Serial killer Homer Gibbon is sentenced to death. Except, it’s not quite the death he expected.  Rather than truly being executed, the prison doctor, hell-bent on revenge and desperate for someone to pay for heir actions, injects him with a serum that keeps his conscious alive while his physical body decomposes. The doctor’s intent was for Gibbon’s body to be buried, essentially for Gibbon to be buried alive, feeling his own body eaten away by the normal process of decay.  Instead, however, his body is shipped to his aunt in Stebbins, a small town in Pennsylvania.  His body reanimates just as the town’s mortician opens the body bag.  His “rebirth” causes havoc and devastation to the small Pennsylvania town.

Desmonda Fox is a police officer in Stebbins. She has her share of issues: her father was killed in battle when she was young, her mother died shortly thereafter of cancer. She trusts no one, how could she after everyone important to her has abandoned her. She’s reeling reeling after a break-up with Billy Trout, her ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a news reporter. He didn’t abandon her; he actually wanted commitment, to marry her.  Still, Des passes each day by sleeping with strangers and drinking.

Des and her partner, JT, are called to the funeral home for a reported break-in. What they discover instead terrifies them; the body of the “celebrity” serial killer is missing, as is the body of the town’s mortician.  The cleaning woman’s body is found, horribly mutilated. That’s just the beginning…the small town is soon flooded by the walking dead.  It’s up to Des, JT, and surprisingly Trout, to save the town from complete and utter destruction.  The devastation isn’t solely at the hands of the zombies, but powers higher than Des can ever imagine.

Jonathan Maberry continues to impress me with each and every zombie novel he publishes. Dead of Night truly exceeded my expectations. I admit, I didn’t think it would be much different than Maberry’s Rot & Ruin or Joe Ledger series.  Fans of these series will be happy to learn that Maberry puts a completely new spin on how zombies are “created.”

The characters are another  feature of this book worth mentioning. Des, while full of her own issues, is a genuinely likeable character.  The reader will root for her success, cheer her accomplishments. The same can be said for JT and Trout; two men who truly care for Des and will stop at nothing to protect her and the citizens of their small town.

Another unique spin is that, in Dead of Night, the reader will actually feel sympathy for the zombies.  They are intelligent, their conscious is still alive, unable to control their actions. 

“The consciousness becomes separated, much as it does with certain hallucinogenic drugs, or during the spiritual exercise of astral projection. There is a disconect between higher mind and physical body. The consciousness has no control at all over the body, and yet the subcounscious mind can be manipulated by suggestion.”

They don’t want to “live,” to continue to be first-hand witness of the crimes their virus-infected bodies are performing. The beg for the torture to end, but unfortunately no one can understand their garbled language.

One of the lesser-developed characters is a radio broadcaster whose broadcasts break up the novel’s chapters.  The initial broadcast contains warnings of the impending storm hitting the area, moving to shunning of those individuals calling the station to report zombies, to ultimate radio silence. This added feature really drove home the devastation that was hitting this small Pennsylvania town.

I read Dead of Night during the read-a-thon this past weekend and boy, was it a perfect fit! The pacing is fast, the action heavy, the perfect book to keep my attention.  I do forgive Maberry for the dig he made on Stephen King…I’m sure it was done all out of fun (right, Jonathan!?)If you haven’t guessed yet, I highly recommend this novel.  Jonathan Maberry is the king of zombie fiction, further proven by yet another stunning book! Highly recommended for fans of Maberry’s other books, those new to his writing, as well as fans of thrillers (who don’t mind the walking dead).

 

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