Author: Stefan Petrucha

Publisher: RoC Books

ISBN: 978-0-451-46474-3

Fans of zombie noir sat up and took notice last year, when Dead  Mann Walking hit the stands.  Written by Stefan Petrucha,  the series  follows the adventures of  gumshoe Hessius Mann, a police detective wrongfully executed for his wife’s murder, only to be brought back to life by the questionable Radical Invigoration Process (RIP for short).   Mann – and thousands of other hastily RIPped men, women and children around America – find themselves abandoned, feared and abused by the very folk who created them, once the unpleasant side effects of the process begin to kick in.  Despite tremendous odds, Mann manages to stay in one piece, find his wife’s killer and expose a sickening sub-culture  thriving on the exploitation of chakz (liveblood term for their  zombie brethren). Finally, Petrucha notes, zombies may be frightening, disturbing and unsightly , but the greatest monsters are invariably human.  ‘Dead Mann Walking’ was a great thriller, an inventive reimagining of the zombie genre and – especially relevant in a world post -7/11 - a gritty, unsettling  examination of the way we treat the Other . ‘Dead Mann Running’ is a worthy sequel; it gives us yet another deftly plotted narrative, a dash of dark humor, even darker insights into human behavior, and surprises aplenty.

Dead Mann Running begins with Mann attempting to get on with the business of being undead. His loyal assistant, reformed junkie Misty, keeps him from falling apart  in every sense of the word) . His PI business is a lot like him - not quite alive, increasingly ramshackle, yet shuffling along.  Meanwhile draconian laws are making it increasingly difficult for him to stay out of  the concentration camps set up for chakz deemed unfit to exist  among the living .   In the middle of all this, a severed arm  drops by Mann’s with a mysterious gift – a briefcase with vials of what could be either a dangerous toxin or a potential antidote to the RIP.  Before long, Mann is in a race against time that has him sneaking into concentration camps, meeting old troublemakers, discovering his paternal side and unearthing disturbing truths about the origins of the RIPping process. Livening things up considerably are Rebecca Maruta, crazed chemist and widow of the creator of RIP, strange undead waif Penny whom Mann takes under his wing, an even stranger ninja who seems to be stalking him . And , most memorably - Kyua, focus of the collective faith of more spiritually inclined chakz .

Mann is a hero as unlikely as they come – not particularly pleasant while he was alive,  and not much improved by the prospect of  eternal decay. He is, in fact, the first to admit his faults, as he dwells on his  thorny relationship with his wife and father.  ‘I ..(am).. no Arjuna’, he confesses at one point, referring to a central character from the Bhagvad Gita, whose acceptance of his destiny leads to a mythical bloodbath that scores a great moral victory for him, if only at the cost of his family. No Arjuna, perhaps, but heroic nonetheless, in his dogged pursuit of the truth and his concern for the preservation of a world that he can never truly belong to.

Author Petrucha’s vision of an America gone wrong makes for riveting reading, and his chak’s eye view of life after death is at once funny and heartbreaking . More significantly, it cheerfully knocks over conventional stereotypes about zombies, almost unchallenged since George Romero first thought them up – after all, when was the last time a zombie thriller had you rooting for the undead underdog?

Follow Here To Purchase Dead Mann Running: A Hessius Mann Novel