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The Down Home Zombie Blues Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2007

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About the Author

Winner of the prestigious national book award, the RITA, science fiction romance author Linnea Sinclair has become a name synonymous for high-action, emotionally intense, character-driven novels. Reviewers note that Sinclair’s novels “have the wow-factor in spades,” earning her accolades from both the science fiction and romance communities. A former news reporter and retired private detective, Sinclair resides in Naples, Florida with her husband, Robert Bernadino, and their two thoroughly spoiled cats.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One


Another dark, humid, stinking alley. Another nil-tech planet. What a surprise.

Commander Jorie Mikkalah cataloged her surroundings as she absently rubbed her bare arm. Needle pricks danced across her skin. Only her vision was unaffected by the dispersing and reassembling of her molecules courtesy of the Personnel Matter Transporter—her means of arrival in the alley moments before.

The ocular over her right eye eradicated the alley's murky gloom, enhancing the moonlight so she could clearly see the shards of broken glass and small rusted metal cylinders strewn across the hard surface under her and her team's boots.

Another dark, humid, stinking, filthy alley. Jorie amended her initial appraisal of her location as a breeze filtered past, sending one of the metal cylinders tumbling, clanking hollowly.

She checked her scanner even though no alarm had sounded. But it would take a few more seconds yet for her body to adjust to the aftereffects of the PMaT and for her equilibrium to segue from the lighter gravity of an intergalactic battle cruiser to the heavier gravity of a Class-F5 world. It wouldn't do to fall flat on her face trying to defend her team if a zombie appeared.

She swiveled toward them. "You two all right?"

Tamlynne Herryck's sharp features relaxed under her short cap of dark-red curls. "Fine, sir."
Low mechanical rumblings echoed behind Jorie. She shot a quick glance over her shoulder, saw nothing threatening at the alleyway opening. Only the expected metallic land vehicles, lighted front and aft, moving slowly past.

Herryck was scrubbing at her face when Jorie turned back. The ever-efficient lieutenant had been under Jorie's command for four years; she knew how to work through the PMaT experience.
Ensign Jacare Trenat, however, was as green as liaso hedges and looked more than a bit dazed from the transit.

"Optimum," replied Trenat when Jorie turned to him, straightening his shoulders, trying hard not to twitch. Or fall over.

Jorie bit back an amused snort of disbelief and caught Herryck's eye. A corner of Herryck's mouth quirked up in response. They both knew this was Trenat's third dirtside mission, perhaps his sixth PMaT experience.

After eight years with the Guardian Force, Jorie had lost track of how much time she'd logged through the PMaT, having her molecules haphazardly spewed through some planet's atmosphere. She'd seen stronger officers than the broad-shouldered ensign leave their lunch on the ground after a transit. The itching and disorientation would drive him crazy for a few more trips.
At least it was a standard transit and not an emergency one. Even she was known to land on her rump after one of those.

"Are we where we're supposed to be, Lieutenant?" she asked as Herryck flipped open her scanner.
The screen blinked to life with a greenish-yellow glow.

"Confirming location now, sir."

Jorie glanced again at the scanner she'd kept in her left hand through the entire transport, power on, shielding at full. If it beeped, her laser would be in her right hand, set for hard-terminate. Recent intelligence reported the chilling fact that some zombies had acquired the ability to sense a Guardian's tech, even through shields.

That's why she and her team were in this stinking filthy alleyway, on this backward, nil-tech planet the natives had aptly named after dirt.

They were hunting zombies.

Because zombies were on the hunt again.

"Confirmed, Commander." Herryck squinted at the screen with her unshielded eye. "Bahia Vista, Florida state. Nation of American States United."

A subtropical area, according to the Guardian agent on active hunt status here for three planetary months. An agent whose reports had ceased without explanation two days ago. Jorie knew from experience what that could portend. She'd seen it before with agents and trackers who thought they could solve a rogue-herd situation alone. One tracker against one zombie had a chance. An agent with basic tracker training might live long enough to escape. But if there was more than one zombie or if the agent was caught unawares . . . It was the latter she feared.

She'd known Danjay Wain for more than a dozen years—he was one of her older brother's closest friends and had flown as her gunner on her last few missions with the Interplanetary Marines during the Tresh Border Wars. For the past three years on the Sakanah, he'd worked as Jorie's active hunt agent a half-dozen times. In spite of his teasing, prankster ways—he and her brother, Galin, were so much alike—he was a conscientious man with a quick mind and an insatiable curiosity about tracker procedures.

She dreaded now that, during their many sessions over a wedge of cheese and a brew in the crew lounge, she'd either taught him too much about her job—or not enough.

"Think he's alive, sir?" Herryck's quiet question echoed her thoughts. No surprise, that. Danjay Wain was Herryck's teammate, her friend as well. The jovial agent's sudden silence bothered Herryck as much as it bothered Jorie.

She huffed out a short breath. Even as a marine, Danjay could be impetuous. But she'd never thought him stupid. "I hope so. Any response from his transcomm?"

Herryck squinted at her screen, tapped the query code again, then shook her head. "Still no answer."

Damn. She so wanted the problem to be one of distance, of the ship in orbit, atmospheric interference. Anything but what her gut told her might be true: Danjay's impulsive hotshot streak might have finally won out over his common sense. "How far are we from his last signal?"

"Twelve point two marks, sir."

Twelve marks? Jorie directed a scowl upward, even though there was no way the PMaT chief on board the Sakanah could see her. All right. I can deal with another stinking alley, she railed silently at the chief. I know we can't materialize anywhere we want without setting the native nil-techs on edge. But, damn your hide, Ronna, twelve marks? On foot? Let's forget the fact that this is a time-critical mission. Let's forget the fact that we have an agent missing. Do I look like I'm dressed for sightseeing?

She was in standard hot-weather tracker gear: sleeveless shirt, shorts, knee-high duraboots, socks, and a right-arm technosleeve so she could multitask her units if she had to. Two G-1 laser pistols were shoulder-holstered left and right. A Hazer micro-rifle slanted across her back. In the side of her right boot rested a sonic-blade. Not to mention her utility belt with her MOD-tech—her Mech-Organic Data scanner—and transcomm. Her headset with its adjustable ocular and mouth mike striped her hair like a dark band. She'd need that to target the zombies once a warning sounded.

Hot-weather gear notwithstanding, she was definitely not dressed for a leisurely twelve-mark sightseeing stroll.

"Sir?"

"We have to acquire transportation." She took a few steps toward the alley's entrance, then stopped. Ronna needed to recalibrate her tiny seeker 'droids to provide landing coordinates better suited to humanoids.

As for Trenat . . . "Relax, Ensign." In the light of the almost full moon overhead, she could see the stiff tension in the young man's shoulders under his tracker shirt. He hadn't taken his hand off his G-1 since they arrived. "There's not a zombie within fifty marks of this place."

Yet. But there would be. There were close to three hundred on the planet, per Danjay's last report. It was the largest herd the Guardians had found to date. The zombies' controller, their C-Prime, had to be straining its capabilities to direct all the drones.

That also meant the zombies' sensenet was large. They'd probably already detected the energy from her team's PMaT and were alerted to an off-world transport. But PMaT trails faded quickly. As long as her team's MOD-tech stayed shielded, they should be safe.

"Transportation." Herryck thumbed down Danjay's data on her scanner screen. "Land vehicles powered by combustion engines. Fossil petroleum fueled. Local term is car."

Jorie had read the reports. No personal air transits—at least, not for internal city use. Damned nil-techs. A four-seater gravripper would be very convenient right now. She resumed her trek toward the alley's entrance, waving her team to follow. "Let's go find one of those cars."

"City population is less than three hundred thousand humans," Herryck dutifully read as she came up behind Jorie. "The surrounding region contains approximately one million."

In her eight years as a Guardian, Jorie had worked cities larger and smaller. Six months ago, Kohrkin—a medium-size city on Delos-5—held seven hundred thousand humanoids. A herd of eighty zombies reduced the population to three hundred fifty thousand by the time the damned council heads alerted the Sakanah. Jorie, Herryck, and two other commanders went dirtside with a full battle squadron. Their mission was successful. But the lives of those she couldn't save still haunted her.

She thought she'd seen death as a pilot with the Kedrian Interplanetary Marines fighting in the Tresh Border Wars, ten years past. That was civilized warfare compared to what the Guardians faced with the zombies.

Unless you were a pilot taken prisoner by the Tresh. Jorie's fingers automatically rose to the long, bumpy scar just below her collarbone as Herryck continued to recite the facts Danjay had provided. And, as always, Jorie's stomach clenched. A memento—a very special one she couldn't afford to think about now. She had other problems. Serious ones, if something had happened to Danjay.
The stickiness of the air and the sharp stench of rotting garbage faded. Jorie paused cautiously at the darkened alley entrance, assessing the l...
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553589644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553589641
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,805,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Detra Fitch VINE VOICE on November 26, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Bahia Vista ( Florida ) Homicide Detective Sergeant Theophilus Theo Petrakos thought he had witnessed everything. But that was before he walked into a residential crime scene to find a mummified corpse and a lap top unlike anything he has ever seen. When Theo finally returns to his home, he is attacked by what look like some sort of futuristic zombie. He is rescued by a lovely woman outfitted with an array of high-tech weaponry. Before the night is over Theo learns that the corpse and the lap top are just the beginning of a sci-fi movie gone bad.

Commander Jorie Mikkalah and her team are with the Guardian Force. When communications from a hunter agent cease, they beam down to Earth to find out why. They learn that the agent is dead; killed by a zombie. These zombies, originally created about two hundred years ago, were a mech-organic entity produced by her own government to help with space traffic. They were designed to operate in small herds, all under the control of the C-Prime, the largest zombie. Commands were issued to the C-Prime by her people, who then prodded the herds to work. If a herd member was destroyed, the C-Prime made another. But then a flawed program upgrade turned them into monsters. To fix this error, the Guardians hunt down the zombies. Problem is that the herd on Earth is far larger than any noted in history. Even worse, this herd is not only growing larger in bodies, but they are becoming more intelligent! It is Jories job to find out how and why, then to terminate the three hundred, or more, zombies on the planet without the nils (Earthlings) finding out that they are not alone in the universe. Success will gain her a captaincy.

Murphys Law kicks in immediately. The agent is dead and a nil, with weaponry training, is attacked by a zombie.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Susiq2/Linda Sedlak on January 22, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I adore this book! The name had me wondering what it was about, and thankfully I bought it! This is a fun and terrifying story with unforgettable characters in which author Linnea Sinclair has chosen our Solar System for this fabulous adventure. Imagine being a detective leaving a crime scene where a recently deceased man looked like a dry husk similar to a body left in the desert for 6 months. Then find yourself fighting off a monster from your darkest nightmare with the most beautiful woman that you had ever seen appearing and helping to destroy the creature that could not possibly exist! Then it really gets exciting! The Down Home Zombie Blues is a perfect blend of sci-fi, humor, adventure, love, treachery, and courage that I have read in a LONG time. I want more!
Susiq2, Reviewer, Cata Network Romance
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By KMont on November 26, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Linnea Sinclair--one of the most acknowledged and well-received authors in scifi romance today--has done it again. Down Home Zombie Blues has all the hallmarks I look for in these kinds of books; a bit of humor, good world building and characters I can care about. Fold those in with another engaging plot from Sinclair and I'm ready to settle down with a great read. It came as no surprise when I was drawn straight in from chapter one.

Commander Jorie Mikkalah has given her all to keep her people safe against their enemies as a member of the Interplanetary Marines. Years later, she's now a member of the Guardian Force--an elite group dedicated to wiping out a biochemical threat. Zombies are using Earth as a breeding ground, and the herd is unlike any her and her team have encountered. They need information on the herd in order to destroy it, but nothing goes right from the start in balmy Florida. Soon Jorie's mission is on the verge of being compromised and is literally in the hands of one very handsome and noble cop, Theo Petrakos. When the cop becomes a prisoner in his own home, and at the hands of one exotically beautiful woman, he's not handing over the reins without a fight. He means to prove his value to Jorie and is soon more valuable than he knew possible when she ends up stranded. Much is at stake--a possible promotion for Jorie, Theo's career, Earth's very safety and the security of the entire universe. Jorie and Theo band together to keep a deadly enemy from gaining a foothold on both Earth and in the wide reaches of space.

Theo and Jorie's romance was palpable from their first meeting. Circumstances being what they are though, there's also a good buildup of sexual tension between the two that carries well throughout the book's suspenseful atmosphere.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Tramposch on November 26, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Christmas in Bahia Vista, Florida was not shaping up to be very merry for Homicide Detective Sergeant Theo Patrakos. On top of having to endure the matchmaking efforts of his friends after his divorce from the beautiful and faithless Camille, the suspicious death of one Dan J. Wayne has him completely baffled. Never before had he seen a mummified corpse with moist eyeballs. Even in this subtropical environment it would take weeks for a body to mummify and witnesses had seen the victim alive two days ago. More puzzling was the strange technological equipment found in the victims dwelling. Hopefully once he got the peculiar looking laptop to the station he'd have some answers. But things got a lot more complicated after he made a short detour to his own home.

It's been two days since the Guardian Force of the Chalvash Interplanetary Concord stationed on the spaceship Sakanah received communication from their zombie tracker, Danjay Wain on the nil-tech world named after dirt. Fearing the worst, Commander Jorie Mikkalah and her team are sent down to investigate. Following Wain's T-MOD unit's signal leads them to an Earth dwelling, the home of Theo Patrakos. Before Jorie can recover the unit, the signal triggers a zombie attack and Theo finds himself transported back to their spaceship along with the aliens.

Because Jorie can speak Vekran, which is closely translatable to English, Theo soon learns of the new threat to his world. Jorie is no stranger to warfare after six years of fighting with the Interplanetary Marines during the Tresh Border Wars, but that is nothing compared to what they are facing with the zombies. Zombies are mech-organic entities produced by her government to monitor commercial traffic in the spacelanes for viral contaminants and defend the Hatches.
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