Shambling and slow as they might be, we just can’t get away from zombies.
There’s “The Walking Dead” on TV — the biggest hit on cable — and “World War Z,” the movie version of Max Brooks’ terrific book and starring Brad Pitt, to come out later this year.
And there’s Jonathan Maberry’s “Dead of Night.”
Maberry is a writer of suspense fiction, comic books and thrillers that take their cue from biological warfare and the queasy possibilities of modern-day laboratory horrors.
In “Dead of Night,” Maberry does a couple of things I’ve not seen in a zombie book before.
He gets inside the mind of a couple of zombies — yeesh — giving readers a feel for the zombie perspective.
And, most interestingly and importantly, he approaches the possibility of a zombie apocalypse from the perspective of small-town cops dealing with its early stages.
Think about it: Most zombie books and movies, even if they have a small-town or isolated setting, include characters who know the big picture.
While Maberry’s story has those characters, it follows, especially early on but throughout the book, the street-level shock troops dealing with the beginning of the end of the world.
Maberry’s small-town Pennsylvania cops and TV reporters don’t know, at least for a while, that a plague of zombies has broken out. They only know that a couple of people have been killed, in grisly fashion, and that a couple of bodies have disappeared. A suspect is on the loose, but it takes a while for them to realize that the suspect and the missing corpse are one and the same.
The characters try to puzzle this out but thankfully never seem oblivious to the mayhem developing around them. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing like a previously dead body attacking you to change your perspective.
“Dead of Night” is a well-written thriller with appealing, made-for-cable-TV characters and situations.
The ending is open just enough to allow for a sequel. I don’t know if Maberry is planning one, but I’m ready to rejoin the zombie hordes if it happens.