A review copy was provided by Trident Media Group.
I’ll start by saying I’m one of the few who hasn’t been taken in by the recent zombie craze. Though works like The Walking Dead, World War Z, and Zombieland have filled the public consciousness over the last few years, I’ve never had more than a passing interest in the fad. Recently, however, I picked up Kevin J. Anderson’s Death Warmed Over, the first novel starring Dan “Shamble” Chambeaux, a zombie private eye. Before long, I found myself engrossed in this clever book.
Dan Chambeaux may have been shot dead, but since he rose from the dead as a zombie his main priority has been solving cases in the Unnatural Quarter. With cases involving everything from a mummy held against his will to a werewolf divorcee, Chambeaux (or Shamble as lots of folks like to call him) has his work cut out for him. Through all of his mysteries and misadventures can Dan solve not only his primary cases, but also the murders of himself and his ghostly girlfriend Sheyenne?
Death Warmed Over is great fun from start to finish. The story has its share of serious moments, but Anderson’s writing really shines in the numerous humor sections. Some of the jokes are rather grim, but the black humor perfectly fits a story starring the undead. Anderson also excels in world-building within the novel; he addresses everything from how undead freshen up, how often someone rises as a ghost or zombie (1/30 and 1/75 cases, respectively, in case you’re wondering), and even how various companies have targeted this new clientele. Obviously, some things are hand-waved but it’s clear Anderson wanted this world to function as effectively as possible given the mystical aspect of the story.
The characters in Death Warmed Over are endearing and the wide cast is diverse and well-developed. We’re treated not only to “Unnaturals” like Dan’s friend Mel the zombie garbage man, but also human characters like the friendly lawyer Robin Deyer and Dan’s Best Human Friend Officer McGoo, in contrast to the hate group Straight Edge. The story is told from Dan’s point-of-view, and it’s interesting to see how his narration paints these various characters. Despite the wide-ranging cast, it never feels like any of the individuals introduced is merely thrown in, and just about everyone has a decent role to play at some point.
Great fun from start-to-finish, Death Warmed Over will entertain whether you’re an occult fanatic or don’t know a vampire from a werewolf. The book is a fairly quick read and, with short chapters, is easy to pick up for short spaces of time if you’re a busy person. Parts of the book are more exciting than others, but once you get past the first few chapters I guarantee you’ll find yourself engrossed in the story.
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