“I smell dead people.”
– The Zero Dog War by Keith Melton
His latest offering is yet another audacious blend of genre elements; The Zero Dog War is a ballsy fusion of military fiction, urban fantasy, and zombie fiction. Envision the classic 1967 war movie The Dirty Dozen (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, et. al.) featuring a cast of paranormal fantasy characters – a female pryromancer, a demon, a mage, a werewolf, a vampire, etc. – and pit this misfit group against a horde of zombies and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going on in The Zero Dog War.
“Gelatin is correct. His factory focuses on the manufacture of powdered gelatin products. He’s using the living dead as a labor force, allowing him to run operations for twenty-four hours a day and skirt all OHSA regulations and labor laws, destabilizing the market.”
Although the storyline involving the zombie apocalypse is engaging, this novel is clearly powered by the characters that make up the Zero Dogs – pyromancer Walker, sexually repressed succubus Tiffany Sparx, medic and wannabe ninja Hanzo Sorenson, gay demon Nathan “Sarge” Genna, oversexed werewolf Rafe Lupo, summoner mage Mia Tanaka, vampire Stefan Dalca, and sarcastic tank driver and budding novelist Gavin Carter.
• “The zombie grunted, paused, and then continued his shuffling lurch toward the guard, moaning with the same murderous rage as a Beantowner who’d witnessed a Yankees fan pissing on Fenway’s home plate.”
• “Zombies staggered to their feet, rising off the floor, falling out of the supply closets, climbing from beneath cubicle desks, pouring out of the conference room until the office swarmed with enough zombies to rival Walmart on Black Friday.”
• “He backed up several steps as the zombies closed on him in a relentless wave before he turned and ran off, screaming like a gamer on the release day of a Resident Evil sequel.”
Add to that a generous amount of pop culture references throughout – MSK3000, LOTR, Night of the Living Dead, Rob Zombie, etc. – and you’ve got yourself a breakneck paced, action-packed, categorically cool, and utterly readable novel. Hopefully this will be the first of many novels involving the Zero Dogs…
Glen Cook’s Black Company meets The Dirty Dozen.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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