Dead of Night
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Dead of Night

4.3 64
by Jonathan Maberry
     
 

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A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite.

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Overview

A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Maberry (The King of Plagues) combines visceral horror and psychological terror in this bleak zombie thriller. When smalltown Pennsylvania police officers Dez Fox and JT Hammond respond to a break-in at a funeral home, they discover several bodies that refuse to stay dead. The bioengineered disease soon turns other locals into ravenous monsters. Meanwhile, Dez’s estranged ex-boyfriend, reporter Billy Trout, investigates the strange case of the missing corpse of executed serial killer Homer Gibbon. With the National Guard under orders to maintain quarantine at all costs, Dez, JT, and Billy are the only ones who can protect those untouched by the plague. Maberry grounds the story with scientific confidence, spares no attention to detail, and presents the undead as more than faceless targets, but despite clever usage of social media and a unique take on “zombie zero,” this is mostly a rehash of familiar elements. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

“This has to be one of the best traditional zombie tales I've ever read... This is a zombie book for the ages.” —Seattle Post Intelligencer

“Maberry grounds the story with scientific confidence, spares no attention to detail, and presents the undead as more than faceless targets.” —Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a drug intended to keep his brain animate while his body rots in the grave. But the drug malfunctions, and the result is—surprise!—a zombie who makes a snack out of the mortician servicing his corpse. Of course, he's contagious, has passed on the infection, and—voilà!—the zombie plague has begun. As it turns out, this particular infestation was orchestrated by the Reagan administration when it captured the Project Lucifer documents from the Soviet Union. Lucifer engineered the creation of "metabolically minimalized ambulatory organic hosts." Code for zombies? You bet. This is yet another government-engineered zombie plague. Maberry (Patient Zero), who has ended the world in previous novels, will not disappoint his fans with his latest mishmash of crime noir, horror, and gore. While zombie-savvy readers may become impatient at the length of time it takes the heroes to figure out that an apocalypse is in the offing—really, haven't they ever seen a George Romero film?—Maberry enthusiasts will love it. [Library marketing.]
Kirkus Reviews
A rogue scientist's experiment in revenge wreaks havoc on a rural township in Pennsylvania. A rare one-off from the prolific Maberry (Dust & Decay, 2011, etc.) recycles bits and pieces from B-horror flicks and adds a few twists of its own. The author dedicates the book to George A. Romero, penning an unapologetic love letter to Romero's Night of the Living Dead, right down to a setting in rural Pennsylvania. It's here in pastoral Stebbins County that things go to hell. It starts at a new-age funeral home whose proprietor, Doc "Lee" Hartnup, is startled to find the corpse of serial killer Homer Gibbon. Stumbling into a grotesque crime scene are two local cops, JT Hammond and his partner Desdemona "Dez" Fox. JT is more soulful, a quiet, cautious cop and father figure. Predictably, the book focuses on the voluptuous Dez: "Built like Scarlett Johansson, with ice blue eyes, bee-stung lips and a natural blonde if the rumors were true." Her self-destructive rage veers dangerously near caricature while her characterization as "Genghis Khan with boobs" doesn't exactly inspire affection. Still, this shortcoming won't detract Maberry's legions from enjoying his breathless, clipped prose as the zombie plague accelerates--just as a hurricane bears down on Stebbins County. The truly creepy part comes when local hack and serial-killer aficionado Billy Trout starts tracking down Gibbon's back story. Billy roots out Dr. Herman Volker, an East German scientist smuggled out by the CIA. To avenge an old family trauma, Volker has resurrected a secret formula. "Can you think of a more fitting punishment for a serial murderer than to be awake and aware in a coffin while his body slowly rots?" Volker's detailed, believable description of the unspeakable cocktail he's invented, right down to cribbing from The Serpent and the Rainbow, is as inventive as it is sickening. An outlandish but superfluous zombie yarn that is gruesome, imaginative and grateful to its inspirations.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312552190
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
10/25/2011
Series:
Dead of Night Series, #1
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
373,423
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
 

This is how the world ends.
 
CHAPTER TWO
HARTNUP’S TRANSITION ESTATE
STEBBINS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
He was sure that he was dying. It was how he imagined death would be.
Cold.
Darkness flowed slowly into the edges of everything. As if the shadows under tables and behind cabinets were leaking out to fill the room. Soft. Not painful.
That part was odd. In his dreams—and Lee Hartnup often dreamed of death—there was pain. Broken bones. Bullet wounds. Deep knife cuts.
But this … this wasn’t painful.
Not anymore. Not after that first bite.
There had been that one flash of pain, but even that was beautiful in its way. So intensely painful that it possessed purity. It was beyond anything in his personal experience, though Hartnup had imagined it so many times. With the quiet people with whom he worked. The hollow people, empty of life.
The police and the paramedics brought him demonstrations of every kind of pain. Brutalized and beaten. Crushed in car wrecks. Suicides and murders. Even the old people from the nursing homes, the ones everyone believed died peacefully in their sleep. Hartnup knew that they had experienced pain, too. For some it was the rat-hungry gnawing of cancer; for others it was the mind pain that came with having memories carved out of their brains by the ugly scalpel of Alzheimer’s. Pain for all. Pain was the coin that paid the ferryman.
Even now Hartnup smiled at that thought. It was something his father once said, back in the days when Lee Hartnup was the assistant and his father was the funeral director and mortician. Old John Hartnup had been a poetic man. Humorless but given to metaphor and simile. It was he who had started calling the bodies in their cold room the “hollow men.” Well, hollow people, to be PC. People from whom the sacred wind of life had fled through whatever crack the pain had chipped into them.
And now Hartnup felt his own sacred wind trying to blow free. The wind—the breath—was the only heat left in him. A small ball of dying air in his lungs that had nowhere to go. There wasn’t enough left of his throat for Hartnup to exhale that breath. There would be no death rattle, which amused the professional in him. He knew that some other mortician would hear it when preparing his body.
Of course, it would not be a mortician right away. First it would be a coroner. He had, after all, been murdered.
If you could call it murder.
Hartnup watched the liquid darkness fill up the room.
Was it murder?
The man … his killer … could never be charged with murder.
Could he?
If so … how?
It was a puzzle.
Hartnup wanted to cry out for warmth, but of course he could not do that. Not with what was left of his throat.
It was a shame. He was sure that he could manage at least one really good scream. Like the ones in his dreams. Most of his dreams ended in a scream. That’s what usually woke him up in the night. It’s what finally drove his wife into leaving him. She could take the fact that he worked with the dead all day, and she was sympathetic to the fact that his work gave him nightmares. But after eight years she couldn’t take the interruptions to her sleep two or three times a week. First it was earplugs, then separate rooms, and finally separate lives.
He wondered what she would think about this.
Not just his death, but his murder.
He heard a noise and wanted to turn his head. Could not.
The muscles of his neck were torn. Teeth and nails. He couldn’t feel the wounds anymore. Even the coldness was fading. His body was a remote island, separated from his mind by a million miles.
The noise again. A clatter of metal, then the singsong of tools dropping to the tiled floor. Retractors and needles and other items. Things that he wouldn’t need any longer.
Things that would be used on him in a few days.
He wondered who would prepare his body for the box? Probably that schmuck Lester Sevoy over in Bordentown.
Another crash. Then a sound. Like footsteps, but wrong somehow. Awkward. Disjointed. Like a drunk trying to stagger slowly across a barroom floor.
Lee Hartnup knew that it wasn’t a drunk, though.
He didn’t have a name for what it was.
Well … that was not exactly true.
It was a hollow man.
The room was darker now. Shadows were closing around him like a body bag being zipped up with him inside.
A simile. Dad would have liked that one.
Hartnup felt his body shivering. He felt the vibration of it but not the actual sensation. It was hard to understand. He knew that his flesh was trembling because his vision was shaking, but he felt no puckering of goose bumps on his flesh, no actual intensification of cold as his skin tried to retreat from it. And yet the vibration was there. The shaking.
He wondered at it. It was so violent that for a moment he thought that his body was going into convulsions. But that would have affected his eyesight, and he could still see as normally as the darkness allowed.
His head lolled on his ruined throat and he marveled that there was enough structural integrity left in his neck muscles to move his head so violently.
Then all at once Lee Hartnup realized what was happening.
It wasn’t a wave of cold shivers. The cold, in fact, was nearly gone. It seemed to flee as the darkness grew. It wasn’t convulsions either. The movement was not caused by any muscular action or nervous flutter anywhere in his body. This was purely external.
He was being shaken.
No … “worried” was the word. The way a terrier worries a rat.
That’s what was happening.
And yet not … This wasn’t a hunting dog trying to break the neck of a rodent. No … This was something else. Even down there in the darkness, Hartnup realized how wrong it all was. He could not feel the teeth that clamped onto him. He was beyond the sensation of pressure or pain. All that was left to him was the savage movement of his body, and the uncontrollable lolling of his head as the hollow man bit at him and tore him to pieces.
The cold was gone now. The darkness closed over him, shutting out all light. Even the trembling vision faded into nothingness. Hartnup could feel himself die.
He knew that he was dead.
And that terrified him more than anything. More than the man on the gurney. More than when that man had opened his eyes. More than that first terrible bite. More than the cold and the darkness. More than the knowledge that he was being eaten.
He knew that he was dead.
He knew.
God almighty.
How could he be dead … and know? He should be a corpse. Just that. Empty of life, devoid of all awareness and sensation.
This was something he had never imagined, never dreamed. The wrongness of it howled in his head.
He waited in the darkness for the nothingness to come. It would be a release.
He waited.
He prayed.
He screamed in a voiceless voice.
But he did not become a corpse.
He became a hollow man instead.

 
Copyright © 2011 by Jonathan Maberry

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Meet the Author

Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestseller and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Patient Zero, the Pine Deep Trilogy, The Wolfman, Zombie CSU and They Bite.  His work for Marvel Comics includes the Punisher, Wolverine, DoomWar, Marvel Zombie Return and Black Panther.  His Joe Ledger series has been optioned for TV by Sony Pictures.

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