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REVIEW: Dead Heat by Del Stone, Jr.

REVIEW SUMMARY: Excellent near-future, post-apocalyptic zombie story with lots of graphic action sequences


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A lone, motorcycle-riding meat-hook-wielding zombie travels across America searching for the reason he is different than other zombies

PROS: Fast moving; superbly written action sequences.
CONS: The book ran out of pages before I lost interest.
BOTTOM LINE: A fun, fun story that’s well told.

Dead Heat is Del Stone’s first novel and he scores in a big way. He has created a post-apocalyptic world filled with lots of graphic action and imagination, all told with a quick, refreshing writing style.

In the near future, a virus is unleashed that has the unfortunate ability to bring the dead to life. That’s page one.

The rest of the novel tells the story of one of these zombies, the self-named Hitch, who falls prey to zombies and becomes one himself. But Hitch is not your garden-variety zombie; he’s different. For one thing, he does not crave live human flesh like all of the other zombies. Also, he has the ability to sense and affect the thoughts other zombies – a trait he uses at one point to amass a Zombie army and at other times to help him out of sticky situations. Hitch has also retained some memories of his life before he was transformed. And he can still think. Hitch wants an explanation for this existence. He wants answers. So, armed with a meat hook at the end of a chain (which he wields gruesomely, by the way), he sets off on his Harley Davidson motorcycle looking for answers.

This story is structured in episodic stages. One early sequence depicts a psychotic scientist, a “Little Hitler”, who wishes to rule the world. Another sequence deals with a music-loving cult of worshippers. All the while, Hitch is searching for “the Golem”, the evil being that his mental abilities have allowed him to sense. Hitch is a superhero in a world of the dead and the frequent action sequences are filled with beautifully described and memorable text. The reader is inundated with descriptions of how the meat hook rips flesh from bones; how the wind whistles through Hitch’s partially exposed rib cage; how dead insects slide out of Hitch’s body; and so much more. Given the potential amount of gore in a zombie story, it was quite skillful of the Stone to not overdo it. The worst thing about the story was that it had to end.

This book is ideal for any reader looking for a fast-paced story that entertains, immerses and leaves you wanting more.

Highly recommended.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

2 Comments on REVIEW: Dead Heat by Del Stone, Jr.

  1. Holy crap – what a book. It was fantastic, and I want to thank John for letting me borrow it. The book did have me in a quandry at one point with wanting to root for the undead hero, but realizing that he was killing living humans. Now these were obviously the dregs of society, but they are still something we would normally empathize with before we would an undead thing (well except for Kevin).

    I second John’s rating….


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