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Pay Me In Flesh (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law) by K. Bennett
Review by Drew Bittner
Pinnacle Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780786026241
Date: 01 August 2011 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Attorney Mallory Caine has enough complications in her life: a dying practice, a hippie mother, and a pesky office neighbor. But her biggest problema has to be the fact that she's a zombie and needs to eat brains to survive.

How did this happen? Well, Pay Me in Flesh by K. Bennett doesn't answer all the questions but it does kick off a new series featuring the unusual Ms. Caine.

Mallory's second life, as stripper/murderer Amanda, is where the action begins. One night, Amanda is trolling for brains (she chooses johns who won't be missed, kills them and gets what she needs, the higher quality the better) when a guy in a sports car offers her some serious bucks. She jumps in and is almost unsurprised when he says he intends to kill her. Considering she's already dead and pretty much immune to harm, Mallory is more amused than threatened--and she kills the guy, then sets him on fire inside his car.

Cut to the next morning and the news is full of how an undercover cop was murdered in the Hollywood Hills. Mallory's streetwalker friend Traci Ann is taken in, for the crime Mallory herself committed, but there's even a greater complication: Traci Ann is a vampire.

And if that weren't bad enough, Mallory's ex-boyfriend Aaron Argula is the prosecutor in the case... and he wants back into Mallory's life.

Things are so knotty that owls turning up to spy on her, a faded TV hostess who "witnessed" the murder, and a psycho with a sword, dispatching the undead and gunning for Mallory, seem almost commonplace.

Mallory is going to have to find out why someone wants Traci Ann put away for this crime without incriminating herself. Worse, she'll have to do it with a crooked judge, an earnest ex-boyfriend, and an extremely rich lawyer making things more difficult for her. Oh, and if she has the time, maybe she can follow a lead or two on her own murder and reanimation.

Ah well. Nobody ever said undeath was going to be easy.

Bennett (also known as author James Scott Bell) delivers a fast-paced and action-packed story featuring a remarkable zombie heroine. Mallory is akin to urban fantasy heroines in that she has a dark sense of humor and is full of irony, but her quiet and reflective moments have a lot of power to them; her melancholy realization that she won't ever have the life she dreamed of is very poignant, for one.

Argula is a good foil for her, being the boyfriend who ran off, found someone else, and now wants back in her good graces. Mallory can't trust him with her secret--though it seems an attentive cop named Strobert will be getting closer to the truth in future stories.

Bennett has a great lead-off to a new series here. Zombies seem to be the latest thing in urban fantasy, with several new and quite good releases in recent months. If this is the shape of things, readers might be well pleased.

Recommended.

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