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City of the Dead

City of the Dead

4.2 44
by Brian Keene

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to the Stoker-winning The Rising (2003), Keene ingeniously asks, if human corpses can be reanimated, why not dead dogs, rats, sparrows, goldfish, etc.? His other innovation is the news that the zombie swarm is inhabited by demons who are angry at God for trying to exile them in the Void. They want to get revenge by killing everything on Earth, and they are numerous, clever and indestructible enough to accomplish the task. Opposing the demon-zombies are a few living survivors, chiefly an ex-hooker, a young father and his little boy. Finding no shelter elsewhere, they wind up in a fortified Manhattan skyscraper, commanded by an old millionaire who's certain he can outlast any attack. Keene does a fine job keeping the mechanics of the siege clear, while switching viewpoints among his large cast of characters. He's also inventive in imagining ways the human body can be disassembled, with vivid descriptions of torn flesh and spraying fluids. After a while, though, the relentless dread becomes tiresome. Reading this book is like being trapped in a long, gory, unwinnable video game. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.98(d)

Read an Excerpt

City of the Dead

By Brian Keene

Dorchester Publishing

Copyright © 2005

Brian Keene

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8439-5415-9

Chapter One

Jim, Martin, and Frankie stared into the distance. A cemetery
stretched off to the horizon along both sides of New Jersey's
Garden State Parkway, and the highway cut right through the
graveyard's center. Thousands of tombstones thrust upward to
the sky, surrounded by tenements and overgrown vacant lots.
Tombs and crypts also dotted the landscape, but the sheer
number of gravestones almost overwhelmed them.

Jim said, "I remember this place. It used to freak me out
every time I drove up here to pick up Danny or drop him off.
Creepy, isn't it?"

"It's something all right," Frankie gasped. "I've never seen
so many tombstones in one place. It's fucking huge!"

The old preacher whispered something beneath his breath.

"What'd you say, Martin?"

He stared across the sea of marble and granite.

"I said that this is our world now. Surrounded on all sides by
the dead."

Frankie nodded in agreement. "As far as the eye can see."

"How long after all these buildings crumble," Martin sighed,
"will these tombstones remain standing? How long after we're
gone will the dead remain?"

Martin shook his head sadly. They finished examining the
Humvee for any damage suffered during their last battle with
the dead. Then they continued on their way.

As the sun began to set, its last, faint rays shoneupon the
sign in front of them.


Jim began to hyperventilate.

"Take that exit."

Martin turned around, concerned.

"Are you okay, Jim? What is it?"

Jim clenched the seat, gasping for air. He felt nauseous. His
pulse pounded in his chest and his skin grew cold.

"I'm scared," he whispered. "Martin, I'm just so scared. I
don't know what's going to happen."

Frankie cruised down the exit ramp and flicked on the
headlights. The tollbooths stood empty and she breathed a sigh
of relief.

"Which way?"

Jim didn't answer, and they were unsure if he'd even heard
her. His eyes were squeezed shut, and he'd begun to tremble.

"Hey," Frankie shouted from the front seat, "you want to see
your kid again? Snap the fuck out of it and get your shit
together. Now which way?"

Jim opened his eyes. "Sorry, you're right. Go to the bottom of
the ramp and make a left at the red light. Go up three blocks
and then make a right onto Chestnut. There's a big church and
a video store on the corner."

Jim exhaled, long and deep, and began to move again. He sat
the rifles aside and double-checked the pistol, shoving it
back into the holster after he was satisfied. He pressed
himself into the seat and waited, while his son's neighborhood
flashed by outside.

A zombie wearing a tattered delivery uniform jumped out from
behind a cluster of bushes. It clutched a baseball bat in its
grimy hands.

"There's one." Martin rolled down the window enough to squeeze
off a shot.

"No," Frankie said, stopping him. "Don't shoot at them unless
they directly threaten us or look like they're following."

"But that one will tell others," he protested. "The last thing
we need to do is attract more!"

"Which is exactly why you don't need to be shooting at it,
preacher. By the time it tells its rotten little friends that
the lunch wagon is here, we can grab his boy and get the fuck
out. You start shooting and every zombie in this town is gonna
know we're here and where to come find us!"

"You're right," Martin nodded, and rolled the window back up.
"Good thinking."

An obese zombie waddled by, dressed in a kimono and pulling a
child's red wagon behind her. Another one sat perched in the
wagon, its lower half missing and few remaining entrails and
yellow curds of fat spilling out around it. Both creatures
grew agitated as they sped by, and the fat zombie loped along
behind them, fists raised in anger.

Frankie slammed on the brake, slammed the Humvee into reverse,
and backed up, crushing both the zombies and the wagon under
the wheels. The vehicle rocked from the jolt.

She grinned at Martin. "Now wasn't that much quieter than a

The preacher shuddered. Jim barely noticed either of his
companions. His pulse continued to race, but the nausea was
gone, replaced with a hollow emptiness.

How many times had he driven down this same suburban street,
either to pick Danny up or to take him home? Dozens, but never
suspecting that one day he'd do so armed to the teeth and
riding in a hijacked military vehicle with a preacher and an
ex-hooker. He remembered the first time, right after his first
complete summer with Danny. Danny started crying when Jim
turned onto Chestnut, not wanting his father to leave. The big
tears rolled down his little face when they pulled into the
driveway, and were still flowing when Jim reluctantly drove
away. He'd watched Danny through the rear-view mirror and
waited until he was out of sight before he pulled over and
broke down himself.

He thought of Danny's birth. The doctor placed him in his arms
for the first time. He'd been so small and tiny, his pink skin
still wet. His infant son crying then too, and when Jim cooed
to him, Danny opened his eyes and smiled. The doctors and
Tammy insisted it wasn't a smile, that babies couldn't smile;
but deep down inside, Jim had known better.

He thought of the summers that he and his second wife, Carrie,
spent with Danny. The three of them had played Uno, and Danny
and Carrie caught him cheating, hiding 'Draw Four' cards under
the table in his lap. They'd wrestled him to the floor,
tickling him till he admitted the deception. Later, they sat
on the couch together, eating popcorn and watching Godzilla
and Mecha-Godzilla trash Tokyo.

The message that Danny had left on his cell phone a week ago
echoed through his mind as they turned a corner.

"I'm on Chestnut," Frankie reported, "now what?"

'I'm scared Daddy. I know we shouldn't leave the attic, but
Mommy's sick and I don't know how to make her better. I hear
things outside the house. Sometimes they just go by and other
times I think they're trying to get in. I think Rick is with

"Jim? JIM!"

Jim's voice was quiet and far away. "Past O'Rourke and
Fischer, then make a left onto Platt Street. It's the last
house on the left."

In his head, Danny was crying.

'Daddy, you promised to call me! I'm scared and I don't know
what to do....'

"Platt Street," Frankie announced and made the turn. She drove
past the houses, each lined up in neat rows, each one
identical to the next, save for the color of their shutters or
the curtains hanging in the vacant windows. "We're here."

She put the Humvee in park and left the engine running.

'... and I love you more than Spider-Man and more than Pikachu
and more than Michael Jordan and more than 'finity, Daddy. I
love you more than infinity.'

The phrase had haunted him over the last few days, resonating
with double meaning. It had been a game he and Danny had
shared, something to ease the pain of long distance phone
calls from West Virginia to New Jersey. But one of the
zombie's he'd faced had also used the phrase.

"We are many. Our number is greater than the stars. We are
more than infinity."

Jim opened his eyes.

"More than infinity, Danny. Daddy loves you more than

He opened the door and Martin followed. Jim placed a hand on
his shoulder, pushing the old man back into the seat.

"No," he said firmly, shaking his head, "you stay with
Frankie. I need you to watch our backs out here. Make sure
we've got a clear shot at escape. I'm going to leave the
rifles here with you guys-just in case."

He paused, and still squeezing Martin's shoulder, raised his
head and sniffed the breeze.

"This town is alive with the dead, Martin. Can you smell

"I can," the preacher admitted, "but you'll need help. What

"I appreciate everything you've done for me and Danny, but
this is something I have to do alone."

"I'm afraid for what you might find."

"So am I. That's why I need to do this by myself. Okay?"

Martin was reluctant. "Okay. We'll wait here for both of you."

Frankie leaned over the seat and pulled one of the M-16s to
the front. She placed it between her legs and checked the rear
view mirror.

"Coast is clear," she said. "Better get going."
Jim nodded.

Martin sighed. "Good luck, Jim. We'll be right here."

"Thank you. Thank you both."

He took a deep breath, turned away, and crossed the street.
His feet felt leaden, his hands numb. Gripping the pistol, he
shook it off and clenched his jaw.

"More than infinity, Danny ..."

He broke into a run, his boots pounding on the sidewalk as he
sprinted for the house. He turned into the yard, dashed onto
the porch and drew the pistol from its holster. Hand
trembling, he reached out and tried the doorknob. It was

Slowly, Jim turned it. Calling his son's name, he went inside
the house.

* * *

They waited in the darkness.

Martin hadn't realized he was holding his breath until Jim
vanished through the front door.

Frankie checked the street for movement again. "What now?"

"We wait," he told her. "We wait and we watch for them to come

The night air turned chilly, and it whistled through the hole
in the ruined windshield. Frankie shivered. Jim had been
right. There was something foul on the breeze.

"So how old is Danny, anyway?"

"Six," Martin answered. "He was-I mean is-a cute kid. Looks
like Jim."

"You saw a picture?"

He nodded.

"How long you two been traveling together?"

"Since West Virginia. Jim got attacked outside my church. I
saved him and then promised to help him find his son."

Frankie was quiet for a moment. Then she spoke again.

"Tell me something, preacher-man. Do you really think his son
is alive in there?"

Martin watched the house. "I hope so, Frankie. I hope."

"Me too. I think that ..." Her voice trailed off and she checked
the street and surrounding yards again. Carefully, she hefted
the rifle.

The stench was getting stronger.

"What is it?" Martin asked.

"Can't you smell them? They're coming."

Martin cracked his window and sniffed the air, his nose
wrinkling in disgust.

"I reckon they know we're here, somewhere. They're hunting for

"What should we do?"

"Like I said, we wait. Not much else we can do. Just be

They grew quiet again and watched the silent houses around
them. Martin turned back to Danny's house. His jittery legs
bounced up and down and he cracked his leathery knuckles in
the dark. His arthritis was acting up and he doubted he'd find
any medicine lying around for it soon.

"Stop fidgeting."


Random Bible verses ran through his head and Martin focused on
them so that he would not have to wonder what was going on
inside the house. Blessed are the peacemakers ... Jesus saves ... For
God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son,
that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have
eternal life ... And on the third day, he arose from the dead ...

Martin glanced back at the house again, fighting the urge to
get out of the Humvee and run towards it. He thought of the
father and son that saved them from cannibals in Virginia. The
father had been mortally wounded and before he could turn into
a zombie, the son shot him and then turned the gun on himself.

He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him,
shall not perish, but have eternal life ... And on the third day,
he arose from the dead ...

... His only begotten son ... he arose from the dead ...

... His only son ... arose from the dead ...

Martin froze.

"Frankie, I-"

A gunshot suddenly rang out, shattering the stillness. It was
followed by a scream. Silence returned and then a second
gunshot followed.

Both had come from inside the house.

"Frankie, that was Jim screaming!"

"Are you sure? It didn't sound human to me."

"It was him! I'm sure of it."

"What do we do now?"

"I don't know. I don't know!"

Martin's mind whirled.

He shot Danny and then himself! He got in there, and Danny was
a zombie. His only begotten son arose from the dead!

Frankie shook him.

"Fuck this shit! Come on, Reverend!"

They jumped out of the Humvee, weapons at the ready, as the
first cries of the undead drifted to them on the night wind.
The zombies appeared at the end of the street and the doors to
the houses began to open at the same time. The undead poured

Martin's voice cracked. "It-it was a trap. L-look at all of
them ..."


Frankie raised the M-16, aimed and fired three shots in quick
succession. One corpse dropped and five more took its place.
With a horrendous cry, the zombies charged.

Martin turned back to the Humvee, but Frankie grabbed his arm.

"Move your ass, preacher-man!"

They ran toward the house, to see what had become of their
friend. More gunshots echoed from inside as they approached.

Above them, the newly risen moon shined down upon the world,
staring at a mirror image of its cold, dead self.


Excerpted from City of the Dead
by Brian Keene
Copyright © 2005 by Brian Keene .
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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City of the Dead 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Jtreader87 More than 1 year ago
First off its important to understand that this book is not about zombies(or at least traditional zombies). Any die hard fan zombie traditionalist expecting the classic lumbering , illogical zombies is in for an interesting twist. Keene takes the traditional zombie and gives them their greatest weapon yet-the ability to reason,communicate, think and plan. Now at this point any diehard zombie fan is thinking, "wait, zombies can't do any of that these aren't really zombies, this books gonna suck!" because that's exactly what I thought. However having said that, this book is fantastic. The explanation for why they are able to think is so intriguing and well thought out that it completely overshadows the fact that it breaks away from the tradition. The explanation(which I won't spoil for you) completely justifies their new abilities and actually adds to the suspense. The story itself is also very well written and I found myself not wanting to put the book down. All in all whether you're new to the zombie genre or are a seasoned zombie lover, this book won't disappoint.
Mistress_Lorescien More than 1 year ago
If I had read this book before The Rising, it would have made no sense. If I had read The Rising all on it's own, I would have thrown the book out my window in frustration. Putting the two together was absolute heaven. Keene needed this second book not only to please readers but to evolve the unique zombie idea he had created. The Siqqusim needed more depth, and he brought that depth quite well. I enjoyed seeing more into Ob's 'family' of sorts, how Ab's minions from the Elilum would control plants and insects once the humans were removed, and how Api's minions in the Teraphim would consume the remains with fire. Personally, I would have liked more time to be with the zombies to see how they interacted, but the book was still very well done. The happy ending (of sorts) for Frankie, Danny, and God [Pigpen's cat, if you forgot] made me cry and laugh at the same time. It was beautifully done. Brian Keene eally knows how to handle his tearjerkers and his zombies. It's all so beautiful! Btw, make sure to read- if you haven't already- The Rising. It's a must read before and even after (if that's what you choose). And one more thing... bug Keene into making one that follows up the loss of humanity. I think we'd all like to meet
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
This book was a powerhouse of action. You hardly had a moment to catch your breath in between the attacks and battles. As fun as the first one, The Rising, but even more brutal and graphic. Full of good characters fighting the good fight, and with a healthy dose of unscrupulous and mentally unstable characters alike, you never know what's going to happen next. This book picks up where The Rising left off. Jim has just made it to his son's home, and the zombies are closing in outside. The book opens at the home of his ex-wife, while you wait to learn whether or not Danny is found alive and whether they make it out alive, and it ends at the Ramsey Towers in New York, where survivors are holed up against the zombies milling around outside. One thing I should note: This book is not suitable for children. It is extremely violent, vulgar and there are many moments of graphic sexuality, including zombie sex and multiple accounts of genital mutilation. Please be forewarned. Overall a fun story, but a little sad and depressing at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
City of the Dead was a very interesting book because it was a very horrific and gory book but kept you in suspense because you don¿t know if the dead are going to break into the building or if another person will commit suicide. Besides that the way it was horrific was because the leader of the survivors had saved so many people he built a god complex of him self and wanted to be worshipped. Slowly his mind became corrupt and became insane.
City of the Dead starts off with our main characters Jim who is a father looking for his son, Martin who is a priest, and Frankie who a ¿physician¿ of sorts. In the beginning Jim and the crew go looking for his son and are besieged by the dead and eventually saved by Don. They then escape the town that Jim¿s son was in and went down the New Jersey Turnpike en route to the tallest and only lit building the see, Ramsey Tower.
Those that could relate to this book are more alternative types of people like those who get a joy out of a horror movie. The theme of the book is that praise someone to much and they expect it and build up a god complex as well as that it shows that the best of friends can become the worst of enemies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great sequeal of The Rising. Brian Keene creates an adrenaline rush of suspense while balancing it off with horror and story telling. The characters are great and feel real because of the great diologue in the story. What makes this book so great though is how it is very unique from other zombie books and films.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome,I love how the zombies were unique.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a good follow up to the first novel. I read this right after reading The Rising so I was ready for the non-traditional zombie take on things. So with that said I did like this one more than the first. A good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is THE BEST zombie book I have ever read, I couldn't put it down. I finnished it in two days.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the best zombie book I have read to date. Once you start this book it will be hard to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was looking in my local library when I stumbled across this book. I started reading it that night and was finished before I had to go to school the next morning. Buy this book maybe he will make more....
Guest More than 1 year ago
Revenge is a dish best served cold and this book has to be one of the coldest dishes ever made. The creatures, created long before humans, had been pushed into a void that is between the living and hell. The immortal spiritual beings have been plotting for many millienia to get their revenge on God. Now scientists have given them the cance, by ripping an opening in the void. Now they have taken over the minds of those who have died, using them to kill and create more shells for the creatures of the void. Now it is up to a group consisting of an ex-hooker, a father desprete for his son, the father's son and a preacher to make their last stand for their lives, loved ones, the planet, and the universe. Warning: Lots of necrophilia, gresome images, and horrifying graphics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a slow reader.I read this book in 3 days.I could not put it down.I would read this book anyday over videogames and/or TV.This book is awsome.If you like zombies this is a great book for you to read
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