My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a true noir tale, only it happens to include zombies. Mann is the name of the detective and ever since he found out his wife was having an affair with his boss, his existence has been a major disappointment to him. First, his wife is murdered, then he’s arrested, convicted, and executed for it, then he gets brought back to a pseudo-life as a zombie. And zombies in this world have few rights and are nearly everyone’s favorite punching bag.
Then along comes a guy with seemingly more money than brains of his own, to hire him to find another zombie. If he wasn’t constantly forgetting what he wants to do, perhaps he would have passed on the assignment. Especially since it brings him into unsavory contact with ferals – zombies who have completely lost their minds -, liveblood perverts, a nascent zombie rights movement, and worst of all, his old colleagues on the homicide squad, including his old boss, who still thinks he killed his wife.
The story moves along at a good clip and provides plenty of noir style insight into the foibles of men, both live and undead. For a zombie, Mann is pretty good at figuring things out and retains a tenacious insistence on the truth that would bring any detective from Sam Spade to Mike Hammer to those places he would be better off out of. Mann is wryly amusing at nearly all times and is mostly aware of his own shortcomings. The other characters in this crazy quilt of an adventure are all drawn well and possessed of their own outlandish personalities.
Some of the plot was guessable, if you’re a fan of noir, but there were still plenty of twists and surprises – enough to keep the reader guessing. Hessius Mann may be beat-up, looked down upon, dead and held together with crazy glue and sewing thread, but he’s still a detective.