|Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 19, 2020 at 3:35 PM|
The Corpse Whisperer by H. R. Boldwood
This is not your typical zombie novel. While it’s still possible that the end of the world is coming, the people inhabiting Cincinnati haven’t figured that out yet. Instead of a zombie apocalypse, the world of the Corpse Whisperer has police forces, legal systems and a medical establishment that has learned to cope with the facts that the dead don’t always stay in their graves and a handful of special individuals like Allie Nighthawk have the power to raise them.
Boldwood takes this premise and runs with it, creating a whole world that is built around the existence of the dead walking mostly on the fringes of society. Zombies and the virus that creates them are studied by scientists. Not all zombies become instant biters and not all bitten people become zombies. There’s even a new medicine that can hold a person back from turning once bitten. The legal system has evolved to incorporate this new reality as gifted people like heroine, Allie Nighthawk, are often needed to raise the dead to ask them important questions like—did you see who murdered you? The rules are pretty well understood by the professionals. The problem that confronts the heroes in this book is that the rules are suddenly changing. People are turning without being bitten and people without the traditional genetic markers are turning too. Perhaps that cliched apocalypse really is about to overrun the world.
In the middle of this unfolding crisis, is Allie Nighthawk. Studying Nighthawk would make any psychologist’s day. She has this amazing power but her ethics keep her from getting rich with it because she actually cares about people and the world around her. Yet those same people don’t seem to like her very much and she has become brash and difficult as a defense against constant rejection and ill treatment. Yet, when push comes to shove, she still stands in the thick of things, loyal to the core and determined to keep the undead from hurting people.
Nighthawk works as a consultant to the Cincinnati Police Department, and they don’t like her much either—even as they keep needing her skills to help with their investigations and generally keep the citizens of their fine city from being killed. Allie’s police detective partner enjoys giving her as hard a time as she gives him, but he has a major personality defect—he’s hard in lust with a news reporter named Jade Chen who keeps her ratings high by loudly criticizing Nighthawk every time a zombie rears its head in the city. And they’re rearing their heads a lot these days, and exhibiting new behaviors that scare the fecal matter out of anyone with enough knowledge to understand what’s happening.
As if all of that wasn’t complicated enough, Nighthawk has been assigned to help protect Leo, a mob accountant who has decided to squeal on his superiors in front of a grand jury. Those superiors, quite understandably, want to prevent him from doing this, but are they the only ones trying to kill him? Oh, and there’s one more thing about Leo which explains Nighthawk’s involvement with him. He’s been bitten and only a new drug is keeping him from turning right away. His tolerance for the medicine is growing, however, so it’s only a matter of time before he starts biting other people with the rest of the zombies.
Leo is the character that best shows Boldwood’s brilliance as an author. He starts out brash and unlikeable, but the longer he appears on the pages, the stronger you will root for him to beat the zombie thing. That’s not easy to do, and he’s not the only character that Boldwood tricks you into liking.
So, if you like great characters, non-stop action, a couple of solid mysteries, a smattering of genuine surprises, and your zombies without the cliched apocalypse, you should really give the Corpse Whisperer a try.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
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