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Dead Mann Walking: A Hessius Mann Novel Mass Market Paperback – October 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Hessius Mann Novel (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Roc; Original edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451464214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451464217
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,123,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fast-paced zombie-noir with a melancholy bite. A sure antidote for the blandness of traditional zombie fare."
(-David Wellington, author, Monster Island: A Zombie Novel)

"Petrucha successfully portrays the walking dead as more than mindless, flesh-eating killing machines, thanks to careful details of zombie life, culture and slang."
(-Publisher's Weekly)

"Hessius Mann is up there in my top ten list of favorite PIs,zombie or not."
(-5/5 hats, My Bookish Ways)

"With plenty of danger, intrigue, and drama, this zombie thriller is pure excitement from beginning to end."
(-The SciFi Chick)

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

Sixteen pieces.

That's how many chunks the newslady said Colin Wilson was cut into. He was scattered across the desert like bits of burger wrapping and leftover fries. The cops found all the bits. Except the head. That's unusual, seeing as how the police don't tend to get involved with Wilson's type, no matter how many pieces they're in.

Of course, the news didn't play it like a murder. To the livebloods, it's more about litter. Lousy so-and-sos always leaving their body parts around, making the living waste their time picking up after them. The candy-blond anchor shrugged. Must've been an accident. Wilson's type are always getting into accidents. Cut to deodorant commercial. At times like this, you want to smellnice.

Accident, my ass. One or two pieces, maybe, and they would have found the head. Seeing as how there's no middle ground between accident and design, that meant something weirder; he was cut up on purpose. That's a lot of work. First, you have to get Colin Wilson into a position where he can't disagree, and then you have to do all that cutting. Human bone, too. Probably needed special tools. It's sure as hell not the kind of thing you do on a whim, or even out of anger. The reasons would have to run dark and deep.

And then there was the head.

I tried not to think about it, to focus on something else, but I didn't have a lot going on. I stared at my desktop, the stains looking like a faded Jackson Pollock. I tried to make animal shapes out of the Goodwill shirts piled on the floor, or see a tree in the cracks on the door.

By the time the news came back on, a late-afternoon light, the dying kind, had intruded from the broken window, making the TV hard to see. It didn't help. I couldn't get Colin Wilson's head out of mine; images of it were crawling around my brain like freshly hatched baby spiders. I didn't know Wilson from a punched hole in the wall, but I kept seeing his severed head in some coyote's mouth, an eye socket pinched between two strong canines, its saliva slapping the skull. Colin's good eye opens and he realizes where he is.

Cut to deodorant commercial.

It didn't make sense. What would a coyote do with a head? Not much meat on that bone. What really bugged me made less sense: What if Colin Wilson's brain really was still thinking? What if it knew what happened, understood that it was a lot shorter and less mobile than it used to be?

Weirder things are true. The official line is that decapitation ends it, but they don't know shit. Calling my memory bad is a compliment, but I do remember the strangest shit, like how I read somewhere that back when they used the guillotine, a French scientist asked a condemned murderer to blink twenty times after his execution, if he could. He did. When the scientist called his name, the head opened its eyes and looked at him. True story, true as anything.

And that's the living. Wilson wasn't of that persuasion. His functions wouldn't necessarily ever stop. So maybe he's still out there.

These days there are so many things worse than death that it's not even high on the list. Thousands of years we look for eternal life and what do we get? Fucking zombies. First I ever saw was in Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Scared the crap out of me. These days all I have to do is look in a mirror. Yeah, I'm one ofthose, too. Me, Colin Wilson, a hundred thousand or so others. Livebloods call us chakz—a mangled version of charqui, or, en inglés, jerky—dried meat. If we're still oozing, which is pretty rare, they call us gleets or juicers. Then there are danglers, but I'll leave that definition to the imagination.

It's not like the movies. We don't eat human flesh unless we go feral, and then it's more like we'll eat anything. We are tough to destroy, which is why I was so obsessed about that head. Cut off an arm or a leg, shoot us in the chest—we'll keep coming.

Then there's burning. Now, there's another great thought—watching your flesh curl until the heat takes your eyes away. Brr. But that begs the question, Who bothered giving Colin Wilson such special treatment? If they wanted to make sure he was gone, why not just incinerate him?

With all the love we get, why bring us back? Mostly because some idiots figured out how. Mammalian life is based on cellular metabolism, right? Ten years ago, the boffins at ChemBet's research labs came up with an electrostatic something-or-other that keeps cellular metabolism charged permanently. They call it a radical invigoration procedure, RIP for short. Ha, ha, ha. RIP a corpse, and hallelujah, the dead have risen!

The rich and famous were falling over their adopted third-world kids in the rush to bring back their loved ones. The feds gave ChemBet some huge tax breaks so the industry could grow and make the process cheaper. Everyone wanted in. Only, once the thrill died, livebloods started noticing how parts of Mom would rot off if she wasn't kept squeaky clean, or how, if you didn't talk to Uncle Stu often enough, he'd get all morose, go feral, and plant his dentures into the dog or a neighbor's kid. People not only wanted their money back, they wanted the process reversed.

That, ChemBet didn't know how to do. Neither did the government. They say decapitation is surefire, D-cap, but, like I said, I'm not so sure. It sounds too much like something a PR flak cut and pasted from a movie script.

Point being, people stopped ripping for love, but they couldn't just D-cap Grandma, not unless she went feral first. Those early revivals account for about half the chak population. The rest are another story.

Me, I was still obsessing about Wilson's head when I finally got my distraction. Misty, my assistant, walked in wearing a tight blue number with fishnet stockings. She's a liveblood. Nowadays you can see it by the flush to her face. When we met six months back she was a crack addict, picking through garbage to survive and turning tricks when things got really bad. So bad she tried working my neck of the woods, the Bones.

She was such a little, half-starved thing, I felt bad for her, which is saying something. Usually chakz don't feel much, even physical sensations. Oh, sometimes a sock in the jaw still feels like a sock in the jaw, or a nightmare can rock your world, but everything tends to be at arm's distance. Maybe it was her hazel puppy-dog eyes or the cracked teeth, but feeling for her gives me something to pay attention to. I also figured there were places a liveblood could get to that a dead guy couldn't, so after I got some food in her, we made a deal: She'd try to keep clean; I'd try to keep from going feral.

Our fingers remain crossed.

She strutted toward me, modeling her dress. It was something new from the thrift store, cleaned so carefully you could see only the outlines of the stains. Aside from the fact that she could stand to lose the stockings, she should've known flirting with me was a waste. When I said she moved me, I didn't mean she moved my groin. Hell, I'm afraid to look down there since they brought me back. Officially, chakz don't have a sex drive.

She meant well, wanted to keep me engaged with my environment so I didn't get too morose over, oh, I don't know, my entire fucking existence. I appreciated the effort, and she was sort of fun to look at.

Trying to play my part, I attempted a wolf whistle. It came out more like a spastic steam kettle. Chakz are bone-dry. I should've taken a drink first, but the effect doesn't last long, and the liquids slosh around inside so much you can never be sure when or where they'll come out.

Misty got the idea, though. She winked. Then she flashed a business card.

I leaned forward for a closer look. Nice paper, maybe even linen. William Turgeon, Esq. No address, just the name and a cell phone number, like he was a place all by himself.

"You find that in the street?"

She blew a raspberry. "No, stupid, he's outside. Wants to see you."

"Me? Really? He's not lost?"

"Nope. Asked for you by name. Says, 'Is Hessius Mann here'?"

That's my name. The hand-painted sign on the door says I'm a detective. I don't particularly agree with the title, but I keep that to myself. And I do get clients, sometimes among the living. Unfortunately, your average liveblood is about as knowledgeable about chakz as they are about how evolution works, so when one shows up, they usually want me to kill and eat someone they don't like. Then they get all incensed when I say no. Most likely, this was more of the same.

On the other hand, it could be a blackmail case, especially with that fancy card. Those're good, but few and far between. See, it's best to tell your hired dick what you're being blackmailed for. Livebloods don't like chakz, but they don't seem to mind telling us everything. Not only are we dead, our memories are so wonky our testimony's not admissible in court. A plus for someone with a secret, a minus for me.

When I was alive, my recall was photographic. It was half the reason I had my job. These days, I remember the weirdest crap. The Beatles' last album? Abbey Road. They recorded it after Let It Be. My middle name? Your guess is as good as mine. Oh, I can still have a decent conversation. It's the transition from short- to long-term memory that's AWOL.

Misty adjusted my jacket and straightened my tie. I felt like a rotting, life-size Ken doll.

"So, should I send him in?" she asked.

I held up a gray finger. "Keep him busy a minute. Say I'm on the phone. There's something I want to do first."

Soon as she left, I forgot what it was. The television? I clicked it off. No, something else.

Talking head? No. Oh, yeah. The head.

After I was ripped, one of the first things I realized I had to ...


More About the Author

Born in the Bronx, Stefan Petrucha spent his formative years moving between the big city and the suburbs, both of which made him prefer escapism.

A fan of comic books, science fiction and horror since learning to read, in high school and college he added a love for all sorts of literary work, eventually learning that the very best fiction always brings you back to reality, so, really, there's no way out.

An obsessive compulsion to create his own stories began at age ten and has since taken many forms, including novels, comics and video productions. At times, the need to pay the bills made him a tech writer, an educational writer, a public relations writer and an editor for trade journals, but fiction, in all its forms, has always been his passion. Every year he's made a living at that, he counts a lucky one. Fortunately, there've been many.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MyBookishWays on October 4, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dead Mann Walking is zombies,but with a twist. These zombies aren't mindless shamblers,instead they are sentient beings. They're also not the risen dead come to life as a result of some sort of virus or spell. Using good ol' American ingenuity,a solution to the rapid rise of innocent death penalty victims was born,and upon exoneration,were brought back from the dead. The process soon became somewhat of a fad,with families bringing back loved ones left and right. However,folks soon realized that what came back wasn't quite the same. We're not talking Pet Cemetery creeping evil here,but some people,upon coming back,did seem to lose some of their higher thinking ability,and the possibility of going feral always lingers. The undead now gather in enclaves,trying to keep to themselves and also staying hidden from the hakkers,groups that take pleasure in torturing and killing the chak (zombies.)

Hessius Mann,PI and ex-cop,is one such individual,having been exonerated after being convicted and put to death for the murder of his wife. Unfortunately,his memory isn't what it used to be,and he relies on an LB (liveblood) assistant,Misty,to keep his daily affairs in order. The constant threat of rot and the near constant worry of going feral don't make life easy,but when a client shows up and offers a wad of cash to find a missing person,Mann just can't say no. Mann and his client travels into the Bedlands,an old mattress factory which now houses a large group of chaks. The man the client is looking for is rumored to be there,but finding the missing man is just one tiny part of this story. A serial killer is at work,decapitating chaks and keeping the heads as trophies,and the killer may have more to do with the case then Mann ever could have suspected.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SciFiChick VINE VOICE on October 4, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hessius Mann was a police detective before getting convicted of his wife's murder. After he was executed, new evidence surfaced and his case was overturned. But Mann was reanimated with a recent scientific breakthrough. Now, Mann works as a private detective, while dealing with a spotty memory and a body that is slowly decomposing. When zombies, called chakz, begin turning up mutilated and missing their heads, Mann discovers that it has something to do with a recent missing persons' case. And the killer may be after Mann as well.

Mann is a likeable zombie, with a mind of his own - for now. Petrucha has created an horrific, near-future world wear zombies come in several forms. But eventually they go feral and become the mindless killers from the movies. Mann not only has to deal with his job, but the constant fear of turning feral. So the novel is not only thrilling from a physical standpoint but from a psychological one as well.

With plenty of danger, intrigue, and drama, this zombie thriller is pure excitement from beginning to end. A zombie noir, this mystery is chilling with plenty of twists. Tim Waggoner's Matt Richter series immediately came to mind when reading this novel, as both are zombie detectives. Petrucha's new series has a darker feel, more horror, less humor, and science fiction instead of fantasy. With the popularity of zombies increasing, this is sure to be a hit with the fans. I certainly enjoyed the exceptional characters and thrilling mystery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 22, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Zombie enthusiasts will find much to like in this wildly creative book. The author creates a new urban hero, Hessius Mann, a former New York City Detective who was possibly framed for his wife's murder, found guilty, and then executed, only to be brought back from the dead, when a legal technicality caused the guilty verdict to be overturned.

Yes, technology has crossed a new frontier, and the dead can be brought back to life, but not life as they knew it. Suddenly, the earth finds itself populated with this new class of citizenry, the living dead, with all kinds of issues and difficulties.

Job hunting is one of those difficulties, and clearly this is problematic for the truly living to do in even the best of economies. For the living dead, it is nearly impossible. So, Hessius Mann hangs up his shingle as a private investigator. Hope springs eternal for Hessius, as it is no easy thing for a zombie to get a case.

When he does get hired by a seemingly wealthy lawyer for a missing person case and the person that is missing happens to be a zombie, Hessius knows that this will be a case like no other in his career. When things simply don't add up, Hessius knows that he's been had, but why and by whom?

This is a well-written book that is teaming with details about life for the living dead. The author successfully creates a whole zombie culture that is believable, with quirky characters who just happen to be members of the living dead. This is the first in a planned series of books featuring Hessius Mann. Those who are partial to books about zombies will definitely become fans of this new series, as will those who enjoy chiller thrillers or those who simply like an old fashioned detective story with a twist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Henderson on January 30, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dead Mann Walking is an urban fantasy that manages to break free from the pack of most of the other urban fantasies I've read. Most of those others involve sexy vampires, sexy werewolves, wizards, or other...well, romantic figures. Ghosts. Fairies. Elves. That kind of thing.

Hessius Mann is a zombie. But they don't call them that. They call them chakz, after the Spanish word for "jerky," or "dried meat."

Mann, who was a policeman in life, was accused of murdering his wife (for good reason), and found guilty. He was executed for the crime. And then exonerated. To give him a "second chance" of sorts, he was revived. The hell of it is, he doesn't remember whether he actually did it or not. It's all lost in a haze. Chakz' memories aren't what they were in life. Mann doesn't like to think about it too much. What if he remembers...and it turns out he did kill her? Could he "live" with himself, knowing that?

Unlike most chakz, Mann is pretty lucky. He's in one piece with few nicks and cuts, although the injuries he's received since his raising are easy enough for his assistant Misty to fix with an exacto knife, needle, thread, and super glue.

He's running a mostly unsuccessful private investigation business. Chakz are universally reviled. Not only are they outcast, they have to deal with the constant threat of harassment by Hakkers, gangs of young thugs who think it's fun to torture and/or destroy the undead. And even though most chakz are able to hold things together pretty well, mentally...occasionally one slips and turns feral, becoming like those Romero-type zombies that mindlessly kill and eat any living humans--Livebloods--they come across. That doesn't make chakz any more loved.
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