Dead Mann Running: A Hessius Mann Novel
by Stefan Petrucha
Review by Harriet Klausner
Roc Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451464743
Date: 04 September 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Hessius Mann was once a Liveblood cop until the state executed him for murdering his wife, Lenore, after he had learned she was having an affair with his superior Chief Detective Thomas Booth. After he died, suppressed DNA evidence surfaced that proved his innocence. To atone for their error the state turned to ChemBet, which developed the Radical Invigoration Procedure (RIP) to reanimate him as a registered Chak subject. He is to go for monthly testing to insure he does not turn rogue; has lousy memory, 60% IQ, brittle bones, dry skin, and nothing else. He learns quickly that being a zombie is not a dead man's walk in the park, but Hessius becomes a private investigator, hires ex-crack-user Misty the Liveblood to run the office in a condemned building and solves the case of who murdered his wife as well as locating a missing Chak for a client.
Someone knocks on the office door, but no one answers to who is it. Mann opens the door, but initially finds no one there until he notices at his feet a weathered cracked briefcase with a hand holding the handle and an arm attached to the hand, but the rest of the body is nowhere in sight. The arm enters the office while Mann thinks how hard it is to kill rotting flesh. Suddenly, the arm panics, punches a hole in a window pane and jumps. Feeling depressed with a strong dose of self-pity, Mann ignores the case until Misty the optimist orders him to detect why an arm left him a suitcase containing two vials of a blue liquid. However, Mann is unprepared for the others seeking the bottles.
Readers will believe RIP exists as Mann makes the procedure seem real. His banter with his Girl Friday is amusing and skin ripping (by her) as Misty refuses to allow her employer to wallow. Other Livebloods are not as nice to the lead protagonist or any Chakz as the zombies are second class citizens condemned by racism on a daily basis.Tthat societal attitude makes Misty a fabulous Liveblood as her treatment of Mann, especially her teasing of his leathery condition, shows she still thinks of him as a person she cares about; albeit a dead one unlike her BDD who calls him It (not affectionately like the Adams Family).
The second Mann zombie detective (see Dead Mann Walking) is a great mystery filled with action and sleuthing inside a vivid world in which arms walk and tap, and hands hold briefcases. Readers will want to know what the case is all about (much greater than Hessius Mann zombie detective anticipated); as he follows the clues while others tail him.