Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dead Good In Brum

In the city of the undead, novelty stirs


By Dave Jeffrey

Amazon (Kindle Edition)
ASIN: B0042P53RY
Publisher: Disturbed Earth (First Edition, September 2010)

Review by Mark Cantrell


ZOMBIE novels are ten a penny these days, often as not putting the lie into the claimed demand for originality by mainstream publishers, but every so often one of the undead slaughter-fests rears its head to moan a discordant note that puts it outside the dismal pack.

Necropolis Rising, by Dave Jeffrey, is just such a title. The book grabs hold like a zombie and won’t let go until you’ve finished it off. For all that, however, the plot goes far beyond the now standard fare of a small band of survivors seeking to stay alive and find a place of safety in the midst of a dead, zombie-infested civilisation.

Instead, the undead set the stage for an action-packed ride into mayhem, filled with intrigue and betrayal, where the characters have definite objectives beyond the immediacy of staying alive. The end is far from nigh; though it is always there, a lurking shadow of doom, waiting for one terrible mistake.

For Birmingham, the undead apocalypse has arrived, bringing its days as Britain’s second city to a terrifying end, but for the authorities the race is on to ensure that the Apocalypse fails to spread beyond its cordon sanitaire.

Nobody gets in; nobody gets out, but two covert teams are heading into the city nonetheless. Their respective missions are worlds apart, though no less shady in their purpose, but the fates of both teams will be become intertwined if any of them is make it out of the city alive.

O’Connell is a former Royal Marine, drummed out on a dishonourable discharge, who has forged a lucrative career in crime. Hired by an international cartel of organised crime, he’s tasked with a very specific cyber-crime: to make the police’s national DNA database a tool of the criminals rather than the police.

Success demands a covert raid to hack the computer direct, but there’s a problem – the mainframe is located in Birmingham. It’s an added complication to a job for which failure is not an option. Like it or not, he and his team have no choice but to sneak through the military cordon and face the undead.

Shipman on the other hand still serves Queen and Country, but in a darker, more morally dubious capacity, as a covert, special forces operative, used to missions that venture far beyond the pale. The Major’s team has a specific objective in mind: a survivor of the plague who holds the key to a cure and more – if he can be extracted alive.

Both O’Connell and Shipman are in a race against time, and to cap it all, there’s a traitor in their midst who wants the prize for private gain, but as they head towards their objectives, and their desperate need to survive overlaps, they find themselves working together to secure survival.

Behind the scenes, powerful forces are engaged in an internecine web of intrigue to profit and control a bio-weapon of fearsome potential, but their best laid plans depend on the two men leading their teams into the heart of Armageddon, where no plan can stay the course, and only wits and courage can see any of them through.

Jeffrey has written a novel that takes the standard zombie tropes and puts them to refreshing work in the service of the intrigue and deception that reveals itself as the story progresses. Quite how this combines to make for a refreshing addition to the zombie arena would conspire to create too many spoilers here; the surest way to reveal the originality at work is to dive into this action-packed thriller.

The author has revealed that zombie stories still have some life left yet.

Mark Cantrell,
Stoke-on-Trent,
12 June 2011

Copyright © June 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Category: REVIEWS

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