The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack


Corpse Whisperer

The Corpse Whisperer by H. R. Boldwood

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.

The Corpse Whisperer Sworn by H.R. Boldwood

The sequel to Boldwood’s excellent novel, The Corpse Whisperer, manages to simultaneously heat up the action, tangle heroine Allie Nighthawk into an even more complicated mystery, move the setting to zombie central in New Orleans, and, most importantly, ramp up the personal costs of the struggle to stop the spread of the undead for everyone involved. And in the midst of all of this, Boldwood also introduces a whole lot of great new characters. So, yes, Sworn, is like giving an overdose of steroids to the original novel, but instead of roid-rage, we get an even better adventure than we did the first time around.

In the Corpse Whisperer, we got to know brash, never-think-before-acting, Allie Nighthawk, one of those rare individuals who can raise a zombie from its grave. She has an act-first personality that the reader will come to love even as she unintentionally makes life difficult for just about everyone who knows her. In the Corpse Whisperer Sworn, we find out how Nighthawk got this way, digging deep into her past to learn how she learned to control her abilities and why the first love of her life is now determined to kill her—after he torturers her to the point where she doesn’t want to live any more.

There’s lots of pain in this one, but Boldwood smartly offsets it with great action and plenty of humor. All of my surviving favorite cast members from the first novel are back with a handful of great new characters thrown into the mix as well. Boldwood also spices up this book by introducing magic into the world—something that zombie hunting law enforcement has a great deal of difficulty accepting is real. It’s yet another point of separation between Nighthawk and the traditional professionals that boosts the feelings of isolation that tormented her in the first book. Nighthawk’s life is so dramatically different from her peers that most people can’t even understand her problems much less contribute to solving them. So even in crowd, Nighthawk seems to stand alone.

As with the first novel, the characters and their relationships with each other are what pull this book head and shoulders above the typical zombie-related urban fantasy. When you love even the minor cast members, it keeps you at the edge of your seat through the entire reading—because let’s face it, you know that some of them aren’t going to make it to the end of the book. Hopefully, those who survive will all be appearing in the next volume.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Life Among the Tombstones by H.R. Boldwood

Allie Nighthawk is back in an adventure that reveals an awful lot about how she became the zombie-smashing heroine of the Corpse Whisperer and its sequel. The action starts fast and furious right from the beginning and—surprise, surprise—nothing seems to go that well for Nighthawk. It turns out that cops who don’t know that zombies exist think you’re murdering them when you stick a knife in their brainstem, and prosecutors are always looking for a way to get their names in the papers. In addition to all the action, there’s a solid mystery behind Nighthawk’s latest problems that I found very satisfying. But what’s best about this book is its success in revealing a lot more about how Allie Nighthawk became the woman we meet at the start of the Corpse Whisperer.

Prequel novels have become common place in the world of literature. Everyone wants to know more about how their favorite heroine came to be the woman whose exploits they’ve been following. Yet pulling off a successful prequel is quite challenging. The author has to get back in the head of the heroine before she’s been jaded and scarred by all the horrors she’s been subjected to in the series. And there are always questions to be answered about the situation at the start of the first book.


Life Among the Tombstones could serve as a “how to” guide in a college course on constructing a prequel. Everything is in here that we’ve come to love about Allie Nighthawk. The house, her neighbor, the pets, the weapons, the nemeses, and circumstances that have been referred to in the “chronologically later” novels.

It’s a very quick read. If you like zombie hunting, you should give it a try.