It’s Men In Black meets CSI:Miami!
He’s a Florida cop. She’s an intergalactic zombie hunter. Saving Earth is the least of their problems…
Bahia Vista homicide detective Theo Petrakos thought he’d seen it all. Then a mummified corpse and a room full of futuristic hardware sends Guardian Force commander Jorie Mikkalah into his life. Before the night’s through, he’s become her unofficial partner—and official prisoner—in a race to save the Earth. And that’s only the start of his troubles.
Jorie’s mission is to stop a deadly infestation of bio-mechanical organisms from using Earth as a breeding ground. If she succeeds, she could save a world and win a captaincy. But she needs Theo's help, even if their unlikely partnership threatens to set off an intergalactic incident, and forces her to choose between a planet and a promotion—and a man who’s become far more important than she cares to admit...
4-1/2 Stars—Top Pick! From Romantic Times BOOKreviews: “Quirky, offbeat and packed with gritty action, this blistering novel explodes out of the gate and never looks back. Counting on Sinclair to provide top-notch science fiction elaborately spiced with romance and adventure is a given, but she really aces this one! A must-read, by an author who never disappoints.”
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Another dark, humid, stinking alley. Another nil-tech planet. What a surprise.
Commander Jorie Mikkalah cataloged her surroundings as she absently rubbed her bare arm. Needle pricks danced across her skin. Only her vision was unaffected by the dispersing and reassembling of her molecules courtesy of the Personnel Matter Transporter—her means of arrival in the alley moments before.
The ocular over her right eye eradicated the alley's murky gloom, enhancing the moonlight so she could clearly see the shards of broken glass and small rusted metal cylinders strewn across the hard surface under her and her team's boots.
Another dark, humid, stinking, filthy alley. Jorie amended her initial appraisal of her location as a breeze filtered past, sending one of the metal cylinders tumbling, clanking hollowly.
She checked her scanner even though no alarm had sounded. But it would take a few more seconds yet for her body to adjust to the aftereffects of the PMaT and for her equilibrium to segue from the lighter gravity of an intergalactic battle cruiser to the heavier gravity of a Class-F5 world. It wouldn't do to fall flat on her face trying to defend her team if a zombie appeared.
She swiveled toward them. "You two all right?"
Tamlynne Herryck's sharp features relaxed under her short cap of dark-red curls. "Fine, sir."
Low mechanical rumblings echoed behind Jorie. She shot a quick glance over her shoulder, saw nothing threatening at the alleyway opening. Only the expected metallic land vehicles, lighted front and aft, moving slowly past.
Herryck was scrubbing at her face when Jorie turned back. The ever-efficient lieutenant had been under Jorie's command for four years; she knew how to work through the PMaT experience.
Ensign Jacare Trenat, however, was as green as liaso hedges and looked more than a bit dazed from the transit.
"Optimum," replied Trenat when Jorie turned to him, straightening his shoulders, trying hard not to twitch. Or fall over.
Jorie bit back an amused snort of disbelief and caught Herryck's eye. A corner of Herryck's mouth quirked up in response. They both knew this was Trenat's third dirtside mission, perhaps his sixth PMaT experience.
After eight years with the Guardian Force, Jorie had lost track of how much time she'd logged through the PMaT, having her molecules haphazardly spewed through some planet's atmosphere. She'd seen stronger officers than the broad-shouldered ensign leave their lunch on the ground after a transit. The itching and disorientation would drive him crazy for a few more trips.
At least it was a standard transit and not an emergency one. Even she was known to land on her rump after one of those.
"Are we where we're supposed to be, Lieutenant?" she asked as Herryck flipped open her scanner.
The screen blinked to life with a greenish-yellow glow.
"Confirming location now, sir."
Jorie glanced again at the scanner she'd kept in her left hand through the entire transport, power on, shielding at full. If it beeped, her laser would be in her right hand, set for hard-terminate. Recent intelligence reported the chilling fact that some zombies had acquired the ability to sense a Guardian's tech, even through shields.
That's why she and her team were in this stinking filthy alleyway, on this backward, nil-tech planet the natives had aptly named after dirt.
They were hunting zombies.
Because zombies were on the hunt again.
"Confirmed, Commander." Herryck squinted at the screen with her unshielded eye. "Bahia Vista, Florida state. Nation of American States United."
A subtropical area, according to the Guardian agent on active hunt status here for three planetary months. An agent whose reports had ceased without explanation two days ago. Jorie knew from experience what that could portend. She'd seen it before with agents and trackers who thought they could solve a rogue-herd situation alone. One tracker against one zombie had a chance. An agent with basic tracker training might live long enough to escape. But if there was more than one zombie or if the agent was caught unawares . . . It was the latter she feared.
She'd known Danjay Wain for more than a dozen years—he was one of her older brother's closest friends and had flown as her gunner on her last few missions with the Interplanetary Marines during the Tresh Border Wars. For the past three years on the Sakanah, he'd worked as Jorie's active hunt agent a half-dozen times. In spite of his teasing, prankster ways—he and her brother, Galin, were so much alike—he was a conscientious man with a quick mind and an insatiable curiosity about tracker procedures.
She dreaded now that, during their many sessions over a wedge of cheese and a brew in the crew lounge, she'd either taught him too much about her job—or not enough.
"Think he's alive, sir?" Herryck's quiet question echoed her thoughts. No surprise, that. Danjay Wain was Herryck's teammate, her friend as well. The jovial agent's sudden silence bothered Herryck as much as it bothered Jorie.
She huffed out a short breath. Even as a marine, Danjay could be impetuous. But she'd never thought him stupid. "I hope so. Any response from his transcomm?"
Herryck squinted at her screen, tapped the query code again, then shook her head. "Still no answer."
Damn. She so wanted the problem to be one of distance, of the ship in orbit, atmospheric interference. Anything but what her gut told her might be true: Danjay's impulsive hotshot streak might have finally won out over his common sense. "How far are we from his last signal?"
"Twelve point two marks, sir."
Twelve marks? Jorie directed a scowl upward, even though there was no way the PMaT chief on board the Sakanah could see her. All right. I can deal with another stinking alley, she railed silently at the chief. I know we can't materialize anywhere we want without setting the native nil-techs on edge. But, damn your hide, Ronna, twelve marks? On foot? Let's forget the fact that this is a time-critical mission. Let's forget the fact that we have an agent missing. Do I look like I'm dressed for sightseeing?
She was in standard hot-weather tracker gear: sleeveless shirt, shorts, knee-high duraboots, socks, and a right-arm technosleeve so she could multitask her units if she had to. Two G-1 laser pistols were shoulder-holstered left and right. A Hazer micro-rifle slanted across her back. In the side of her right boot rested a sonic-blade. Not to mention her utility belt with her MOD-tech—her Mech-Organic Data scanner—and transcomm. Her headset with its adjustable ocular and mouth mike striped her hair like a dark band. She'd need that to target the zombies once a warning sounded.
Hot-weather gear notwithstanding, she was definitely not dressed for a leisurely twelve-mark sightseeing stroll.
"We have to acquire transportation." She took a few steps toward the alley's entrance, then stopped. Ronna needed to recalibrate her tiny seeker 'droids to provide landing coordinates better suited to humanoids.
As for Trenat . . . "Relax, Ensign." In the light of the almost full moon overhead, she could see the stiff tension in the young man's shoulders under his tracker shirt. He hadn't taken his hand off his G-1 since they arrived. "There's not a zombie within fifty marks of this place."
Yet. But there would be. There were close to three hundred on the planet, per Danjay's last report. It was the largest herd the Guardians had found to date. The zombies' controller, their C-Prime, had to be straining its capabilities to direct all the drones.
That also meant the zombies' sensenet was large. They'd probably already detected the energy from her team's PMaT and were alerted to an off-world transport. But PMaT trails faded quickly. As long as her team's MOD-tech stayed shielded, they should be safe.
"Transportation." Herryck thumbed down Danjay's data on her scanner screen. "Land vehicles powered by combustion engines. Fossil petroleum fueled. Local term is car."
Jorie had read the reports. No personal air transits—at least, not for internal city use. Damned nil-techs. A four-seater gravripper would be very convenient right now. She resumed her trek toward the alley's entrance, waving her team to follow. "Let's go find one of those cars."
"City population is less than three hundred thousand humans," Herryck dutifully read as she came up behind Jorie. "The surrounding region contains approximately one million."
In her eight years as a Guardian, Jorie had worked cities larger and smaller. Six months ago, Kohrkin—a medium-size city on Delos-5—held seven hundred thousand humanoids. A herd of eighty zombies reduced the population to three hundred fifty thousand by the time the damned council heads alerted the Sakanah. Jorie, Herryck, and two other commanders went dirtside with a full battle squadron. Their mission was successful. But the lives of those she couldn't save still haunted her.
She thought she'd seen death as a pilot with the Kedrian Interplanetary Marines fighting in the Tresh Border Wars, ten years past. That was civilized warfare compared to what the Guardians faced with the zombies.
Unless you were a pilot taken prisoner by the Tresh. Jorie's fingers automatically rose to the long, bumpy scar just below her collarbone as Herryck continued to recite the facts Danjay had provided. And, as always, Jorie's stomach clenched. A memento—a very special one she couldn't afford to think about now. She had other problems. Serious ones, if something had happened to Danjay.
The stickiness of the air and the sharp stench of rotting garbage faded. Jorie paused cautiously at the darkened alley entrance, assessing the landscape. The street was dotted with silent land vehicles, all pointing in the same direction, lights extinguished. Black shadows of thin trees jutted now and then in between. The uneven rows of low buildings were two-story, five-story, a few taller. Two much taller ones—twenty stories or more—glowed with a few uneven rectangles of light far down to her right.
Judging from the brief flashes of light between the buildings and tinny echoes of sound, most of the city's activity appeared to be a street or so in front of her. At least Ronna's seeker 'droid had analyzed that correctly. Materializing in the midst of a crowd of nil-techs while dressed in full tracker gear had proven to be patently counterproductive.
A bell clanged hollowly to her left. Trenat, beside her, stiffened. She didn't but tilted her head toward the sound, curious. As the third gong pealed, she guessed it wasn't a warning system and remembered reading about a nil-tech method of announcing the time.
She didn't know local time, didn't care. Unlike the Tresh, humanoids here had no naturally enhanced night sight. It was only important that it was dark and would continue to be dark for a while yet. She and her team needed that, dressed as they were, if they were going to find out what had happened to Agent Danjay Wain.
The bell pealed eight more times, then fell silent. A fresh breeze drifted over her skin. She caught a salty tang in the air.
". . . is situated on a peninsula that is bordered on one side by a large body of water known as Bay Tampa." Herryck was still reading. "On the other . . ."
Gulf of Mexico, Jorie knew, tuning her out. Data was Herryck's passion.
Zombie hunting was Jorie's.
But first she had to appropriate a car and locate Danjay Wain.
"Trust me, this is truly weird." Ezequiel Martinez's voice held an unusual note of amazement.
Homicide Detective Sergeant Theo Petrakos followed his former patrol partner through the cluster of crime-scene technicians poking, prodding, and prowling around the living room of the small bungalow a few blocks from Crescent Lake Park and downtown Bahia Vista. The whir-click of a digital camera sounded on his left. He recognized Liza Walters, her blond head framing the familiar piece of equipment.
Zeke stopped and pointed to a nearly shredded green plaid couch. "There."
Theo stepped around overall-clad Sam Kasparov, who was diligently dusting a broken lamp for prints, then came to a halt in front of a body next to the couch.
"Well?" Zeke looked at him expectantly. "Weird, right?"
Theo shoved his hands into the pockets of his slacks and nodded mutely in answer. He wasn't sure weird was sufficiently descriptive of the dead, withered body of the man sprawled faceup on the floor. His skin looked like crisp parchment that had been shrink-wrapped over his bones. His T-shirt lay loosely on his frame; his sweatpants seemed overlarge. His red hair, though, was thick, full, and healthy. Not sparse, like the mummy the dead man resembled.
Worse, his eyeballs were still moist. They bulged from his face like two large, wet, dimpleless golf balls.
Theo had never heard of a mummy with wet eyeballs. But then, this man was no mummy.
Mummification of a body took at least a couple of months under normal circumstances in Florida's warmer temperatures. Yet the landlord had last seen the deceased—one Dan J. Wayne, according to the documents Detectives Zeke Martinez and Amy Holloway had found in a kitchen drawer—alive and well two days ago.
Theo had heard of spontaneous combustion. But spontaneous mummification?
He made a mental note to make sure Zeke checked the Centers for Disease Control database.
Judging from comments by the crime-scene techs, they were puzzled too.
They couldn't even definitely say that this was a murder.
All they did know was what the landlord—an affable, ruddy-faced French-Canadian who lived next door—had told Zeke and Amy: he was walking his rat terrier after the six o'clock news when he noticed the broken front window on his rental property. He peered in. Then, voice shaking, Monsieur Lafleur had called the police on his cell phone. The first officers to arrive on the scene found clear signs of a struggle in the overturned, broken furniture and torn draperies.
But the struggle didn't seem to leave any corresponding injuries to the dead man on the floor. And there was no evidence of who—or what—he struggled with. If anything.
For all Theo could tell, the dead man had run around like a whirling dervish, demolishing his own living room before falling to the floor in a mummified state.
That would fit with the pattern of shattered glass from the window. The window hadn't been broken by someone coming in but by something—which included a portion of a wooden end table, from all appearances—going out.
Theo hunkered down on his heels next to the body and snagged a pair of protective gloves from a nearby evidence kit. Carefully, he plucked at the neck of the man's T-shirt, then the sleeves.
"Maybe you shouldn't get too close to Mr. Crunchy." Zeke leaned back as if Theo's touching the corpse might cause it to burst, sending lethal chunks splattering against the guayabera shirt that was Zeke's trademark outfit. Tonight's selection was navy blue with a wide white strip up the front.
"Might be some kind of virus. Contagious. A new SARS strain or something."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Linnea Sinclair is well known for her wonderful romantic science fiction space operas but this delightful tale isn¿t set in the far future or in a galaxy far, far away. It takes place on Earth more-or-less today but the alien ships hover hidden from the powers-that-be while the Guardian Force tries to exterminate the Zombies 'nasty beasts that suck the life force from their victims' they accidentally let loose on the galaxy and Earth. So the beautiful, and extremely well-armed, Lt. Jorie Mikkalah barges into Bahia Vista Homicide detective Theo Petrakos¿ life and changes it forever. The tale of how these two become reluctant partners and the attraction that pulls them together is filled with humor, excitement, tension and, eventually, love! Linnea Sinclair writes great characters that are easy to care about and thrilling action sequences with just enough romance. True, DHZB¿s is NOT science fiction set on ships in space, but it¿s a darn good SF tale none-the-less! I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as Linnea¿s earlier books 'all of which I recommend'.
I have read Ms. Sinclair's other books, and enjoyed them tremendously. This book is no exception. It is a little different in that it is set here on earth, rather than some mythical universe. A nice change of pace. I also loved the tongue in cheek humour displayed by the author when the movie Theo is watching is a based on a previous book of hers...what a hoot. A fun, adventurous tale that blends sci-fi and romance, from someone who I think is the top author of the genre.
Loved it! Laughed out loud several times. Loved that the hero POV was prominently featured, as often the heroine is the main protagonist. The ending was a bit abrupt, hence only 4 stars.
This is the second book I've read by Linnea Sinclair and she didn't disappoint. This was a thrilling sci-fi story set on Earth. The hero, a Florida detective kept the story grounded by relating the aliens and bizarre occurences, like zombie attacks, in the perspective of an Earth man, while the heroine, a beautiful alien come to save the planet from the dreaded zombies, is very sympathetic as she works through her own problems. All is all, this is an action packed romance, full of aliens, monsters and villains. And the story will keep you guessing till the end!
Linnea Sinclair has a gift for mixing SF and Romance the way some candy makers mix peanut butter and chocolate. And even in the midst of a potentially deadly alien infestation it's the humorous elements -- from Jorie's inadvertantly devastating head tilt to Theo's nosey, neighbor lady -- that made this story so thoroughly enjoyable for me. That, and the contrasts between Theo's world and Jorie's. Here you'll find high-tech gizmos, genetic perfection and a galactic perspective juxtaposed with multi-generation cops, close-knit families and Aunt Tootie's old-world cooking. Read and enjoy, folks.
Linnea Sinclair combines the best of Science Fiction and Romance to create a story that rocks! I've been reading her for years and never been disappointed (and as an avid reader and bookseller, I've read a LOT of books). In Down Home Zombie Blues she brings a squad of outer space zombie hunters to Earth to eliminate an imminent threat to mankind. These Zombies are not your typical horror movie clichés. They are biomechanical organisms who were originally created to solve a problem, but whose programming has been corrupted causing them to become a threat to human life. The need for secrecy creates some interesting plot twists and the romantic elements add spice to the story as the female leader of the space Guardian Force and the Florida Detective struggle against forbidden attraction set against the backdrop of possible annihilation of life on Earth. I loved this book and hope Linnea will set more stories in this fascinating universe.
Last August, after I had finished reading the new releases of all my favorite authors, the dog days of summer hit. I felt like a school kid. I was bored and every book I read was boring. I began a search for a new genre, a fresh approach, a different style. I happened upon a review of the book Gabriel¿s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair. I had never heard of Ms. Sinclair and I hadn¿t read a science fiction book since eighth grade English class but it was a RITA award winner and my interest was piqued. I discovered that the 9-year-old in me who fell in love with James Kirk, the Starship Enterprise, and interstellar travel still lives. I also found an interesting genre in Science Fiction Romance and a quirky, talented author in Linnea Sinclair. I read all of Ms. Sinclair¿s novels in quick succession. I loved each one- I don¿t have a favorite. I looked forward to The Down Home Zombie Blues with great anticipation. I was not disappointed! The plot is unusual and creative. The cast of creepy characters includes giant biomechanical organisms covered with energy worms and the angelically beautiful- but evil- Tresh. Ms. Sinclair has a special talent, however, for creating main characters who are real people. Guardian Force Commander Jorie Mikkalah comes to Earth with one purpose: to rid it of the biomechanical organisms she calls zombies. She is driven. She is detached and she is aloof. She has no intention of becoming emotionally involved in the mission. She also didn¿t figure in Homicide Detective Sergeant Theo Petrakos with his very good face and his feral grin or peanut butter! Theo Petrakos is a good guy. He is a good cop, a good nephew, and an honorable man. He believes in doing the right thing. And doing the right thing includes being by Jorie¿s side as she faces down the zombies. Theo speaks Greek which is pretty sexy, too. Jorie and Theo come to life in The Down Home Zombie Blues. By the end of the story, I feel as though I know Jorie and Theo personally. I wouldn¿t be at all surprised to have them walk in my front door to stop by for a chat. With any luck, Ms. Sinclair will treat us to another visit by Jorie and Theo in the near future! I highly recommend this wonderful story!
I always start reading a Linnea Sinclair novel early in the day, making sure nothing is scheduled. I know, once I start, I'm not going to be able to put the book down. DHZB is no exception. The premise is intriguing, the references to Star Trek make the story more interesting for us trekkies! I want this book to become a series. The police work is based on Linnea's real experience, and the science is truly believable. Theo and Jorie click. Linnea works in the same sci fi vane as Moon, Weber and Drake. The characters are real, with flaws and human failings (hate, jealousy, love, you name it). I'm waiting for the angelic Tresh to have a base in the Bermuda Triangle. If you haven't read Linnea's work before, start with DHZB and go from there.
I discovered Linnea Sinclair about 10 years ago. The first book of hers that I read was Finders Keepers, and I was hooked. I love Sinclair's style of humor mixed with thrilling adventure, and characters 'To Die for' or 'remember forever'. The Down Home Zombie Blues had me wondering what in the world was it about, and I came to discover that it was here in our world! Earth is in terrible danger from a rouge group of aliens who are starting a Zombie species that Humans would be defenseless against. However, the plan goes askew when a different group of aliens discover what is happening, and come to earth to save it from this deadly peril. Meanwhile, on Earth a Detective is wondering how the murder victim lying on the floor of his Florida home managed to become little more than a 'husk' in a period of hours. After the body is removed, evidence gathered, and everyone else has left, He encounters a woman who has a strange accent, and soon finds himself in a firefight with a creature straight out of a nightmare. After managing to destroy the monster with the assistance of the woman who had approached him shortly before the Zombie attack, he finds himself aboard a genuine space craft. Due to his viewing of an obvious monster that he had assisted in destroying, and looking down on Earth from space, He is forced to reconcile all of his beliefs with the reality of Space Aliens 'who look just like humans', plus god-awful monsters that are putting his world in peril. Joining forces to combat the evil plans to 'take away Earth from Humankind' the alien woman, and her team of soldiers, move into the detective's home to plot the destruction of the Zombies. As the death toll rises, and the danger increases, love blossoms between the space woman and the earth detective. I was enthralled by this fabulous story. The adventure is non-stop, the plot is thrilling, the romance is beautiful, and all of the supporting characters need their own book'IMHO'. I highly recommend this book, I curled up on the sofa, and did not stir until I read the last page, then I re-read it. I WANT MORE!! Do read this book, and check out Sinclair's previous novels. You Will Not Be Disappointed!! I am so Thankful that I 'discovered' her!
I loved the first three of this writer's books. They were edgy, fun, and utterly compelling. Then came Games of Command, which was an over-the-top, sachrine, cute- fest. I hoped that was just a blip in an otherwise great track record. Enter, Zombie Blues. This book was a poorly paced and plotted boilerplate ripoff of epic size. All the mentions of Star Trek and Star Wars and the gross similarities to both franchises made me want to scream. This book is supposed to be original fiction, not mimicry fiction. I let the obvious similarities to Babylon 5 and Trek slip by in the last book, but now it looks as if this borrowing is becoming an issue. A particularly tasteless moment in this book was the scene where Theo is asleep in the living room with a movie on in the background that is obviously Gabriel's Ghost. Come on! How tacky. The zombies didn't make any sense. Are they jump-gate watchers or bad doctors? Either way, they're just silly. None of the characters resonated in this story. Theo and his cop buddies started out well enough until they were sucked into the land of the begged, borrowed, and stolen plot devices. I'm not sure if I'm giving this author another chance. She was so good.
I enjoyed Ms. Sinclair's earlier books, Finders Keepers, Accidental Goddess and Gabriel's Ghost. The story lines were good, the characters were well defined, there were few cliches and the action moved quickly. In all, I thought they were good efforts from a new writer and I looked forward to reading more of her work. Then came Games of Command, which Ms. Sinclair herself described as 'silliness'. It was hard to get through, the story line was not well thought out, the action dragged and the characters were not believable. I assumed that Games of Command was an early work of Ms. Sinclair's released to take advantage of her current success. However, now we have Down Home Zombie Blues. The idea is good. The setting is good. But.... The characters lurch through the story. The dialog is repetitive. In short, I was bored. I know Ms. Sinclair is capable of writing fun, exciting stories and I hope she goes back to writing those stories.
Bahia Vista, Florida Homicide Detective Sergeant Theophilus ¿Theo¿ Petrakos is stunned to find a mummified corpse near a strange looking laptop. Not long after he leaves the crime scene, what seems like a zombie attacks him, Commander Jorie Mikkalah of the Guardian Force saves his life.----------------------- Jorie and her squad came to earth when they lost contact with a hunter agent stationed here. Apparently a zombie killed their agent. Her government created these monsters two centuries ago to control space traffic until a flaw in the programming turned them from HERO into killing mechs. The Guardians hunt them down, but here on Earth is the largest herd of zombies that has ever been reported worse they are also the most intelligent found so far. Jorie must perform Intel to learn how before destroying the Three Hundred without the local humans nils learning of either of them. Still since Theo does Jorie drafts him to help on their mission before taking him back with her as he cannot be allowed to tell his people about them. Neither the cop nor the commander expected to fall in love while fighting THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES.-------------------------------- This is a terrific science fiction with the zombies nothing like those in the Romero universe instead they are the result of bad technology and work as a cohesive unit. The story line is action-packed from the moment that the Floridian detective finds the corpse and the weird computer and never slows down until the final moment yet there is much humor especially as the Guardian Force troops struggle to adapt to Florida¿s way of life so that the locals do not know they are not of this world. Enhancing the superb thriller is that the romance between the nils and the alien is low-key as both know their priorities. Perhaps the only item left for Linnea Sinclair to answer is whether the zombies voted Republican in 2000.------------ Harriet Klausner