With all of the zombie novels, movies, and television shows, it's hard to find an interesting angle to break through all of the other content out there. Wrath James White accomplishes this with a killer premise. The novel starts off with an African warlord using zombies as part of his army as he tries to take over his home country. That's not the novel aspect of it. What hooked me in was the idea of forming an underground mixed martial arts organization pitting the reanimated corpses of former fighters against current mixed martial artists. Bill Vlad is the Kaiser Söze in this story, a shadowy figure who many in law enforcement don't even believe exists. Tyler Pope is a man with serious anger issues who falls into the category of doesn't play nice with others. Vlad pays him exorbitant amounts of money to fight zombies in his league. Detective Elgin Washington is the homicide detective who is trying to figure out why former fighters are showing up in dumpstairs with wounds that have happened post-mortem.
As I mentioned, the premise is really cool. Also on the plus side is the way that White describes the fights and training. It's more than obvious that he knows his material, having a background in fighting and mixed martial arts. The more interesting part of the novel is the zombie fighting league, and that is what dominates the novel. The writing flows smoothly and has a real professional feel to it. I also found the protagonists to be well developed. Elgin and Tyler Pope were realistic and vivid characters. Bill Vlad was a little more one dimensional and didn't come off as real. On the downside, there were several aspects of the novel that weren't well explained or believable, such as how does Vlad show up in Africa at the onset of the zombie army with knowledge of how to control them, how they are controlled to begin with, and if he is so hard to find, then why does he do such a poor job of covering his tracks? This was a thrilling, fast paced novel that I enjoyed and would highly recommend.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street