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Sunday, August 24, 2014


4 stars out of 5

I've said it before and will say it again: I love mysteries and thrillers, and if there's an ex-cop private detective in there somewhere, so much the better. Zombies, on the other hand, just ain't my thing. But not long ago, I agreed to read the two (so far) "Zombie Attack" books by Devan Sagliani, and to my surprise, I enjoyed them. Even so, when an email came from Shana Festa asking if I'd read and review this one - her debut novel - I hesitated a bit before saying yes, wondering if I might be pushing my luck.

Not to worry: This is a zombie caper that's dead on. I put this one away in two days of very limited spare time (it's just 198 pages) and enjoyed it enough that I'll recommend it to anyone whose blood curdles and heart beats faster at the mere mention of the undead. 

It's worth noting that I was hooked after finishing the very first chapter - and that's a trick few established authors are able to pull off. It begins as Emma Rossi, a 37-year-old academic retread who's finishing up a degree in nursing and interning at a Florida hospital. Soon after she loses her first patient, she learns that an infection of another sort is running rampant - literally; hordes of once-humans have come back from the dead and are running around trying to take the bite out of all remaining humanity. That is came as a surprise did beg the question of how, in this age of instant information, the country could be almost totally overtaken so suddenly that nothing ever made the evening news - but this IS a work of fiction, after all.

Emma, her husband Jake and their Yorkie, Daphne, soon find themselves trying to find someplace safe where they can avoid being chomped alive (after which they'd pop up again in zombie form and set of on a chomping spree themselves). But safety is elusive; just when they think they've found a haven, someone (or several someones) who've been infected turn up in their midst and force yet another hasty retreat. The action is pretty much nonstop - there's no shortage of blood, gore and shock value here - but in between there's enough character development that readers are able to "connect," which bodes well for future books.

I did notice a couple of grammatical errors, and in one spot Emma's husband Jake is referred to as "Jack" (hey, sue me; I'm a copy editor by profession, albeit in the newspaper industry, so I just can't help myself). I also will emphasize that this number is on the low end of those I typically find in books by best-selling authors that have (supposedly) gone through extensive editing at major publishing houses. And there's no question that the author, a registered nurse, has an excellent handle on the English language.

This book ends on a question mark - one of future survival - and those who want to find out what happens next will just have to wait till the next installment is published (according to the author, the next two will be Time of Death: Asylum" and "Time of Death: Crossroads").

Time of Death: Induction by Shana Festa (Permuted Press, May 2014); 198 pp.

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