>Deadfall, the latest novel from The Kult author Shaun Jeffrey is is take on the zombie genre. Now before some of you sigh, I know who you are, and I generally feel the same as you but , this book goes swims against the tide and is a great zombie book.
A team of mercenaries led by Amber Redgrave the feisty female heroine of the novel have been contracted to rescue two children being held hostage by rouge ex-soldiers. Unknown to the team this is a ruse and the real danger is far more horrific.
On the flip side are a pair of eco warriors Jill and Lofty who by sheer chance, when they decide to check out a local test facility, end up helping out the team of mercenaries when the proverbial hits the fan.
This is the second novel of Shaun’s from Leucrota press, sees Shaun on full on action mode, to call this a zombie novel would be a great disservice to his writing. This is not a case of jumping on the zombie bandwagon, far far from it. Yes there is an army of stinking rotting reanimated corpses, yes the only sure fire way to kill them is a shot to the head. To me this was more of an adventure novel, like those of Jeremy Robinson and Jonathan Mayberry, than a horror novel, which in my humble opinion is a good thing. This novel deserves to read by a much wider audience than that of the mere zombie fan. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of gruesome and terrifying scenes for the discerning horror writer. I just feel there is so much more to this than a zombie novel.
The action scenes are handled with great confidence, it is easy to see why Shaun has become one of my go to authors, even though this is only his third published novel, he has developed his own style of writing. Strong, and sleek with good well thought out characters. The Pages almost reek with the smell of cordite, blood and sweat. You can tell he has put a lot of effort into the research, the mercenaries feel real, and their characters are fleshed out so you really do care what happens to them, even if one or two of them are not exactly likeable. The conflict that arises within the group of mercenaries, due to the situation and the fact that all these testosterone jockies have to deal with a female leader.
The darker moments of Deadfall and counterbalanced with some good comic light relief, a lot of which is provided by Lofty and Jill. These moments flow seamlessly into the narrative, without any sense shoehorning, which is no mean feat, as it is not easy to marry these two types of writing without it seeming forced. Nor are they there only for comic relief, lofty and Jill play a key role in the development of the plot, and play a major role in turning this from just being a another zombie tale, into an essential zombie novel.
So to the zombies. To be honest, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of zombie novels, that I can truly say were any good. Shaun has put a lot of effort into creating his zombies, the reason for their existence is well thought out, and as believable as a zombie novel can be. The shambling dead are really well described, in all their rotting glory. And their creation plays a central role in the plot of the novel, both from the view points of Lofty and Jill and the team of mercenaries.
One of the main problems with zombie novels is that it is very hard to have even the remotest upbeat ending, without giving anything away the final paragraph of brought a sly smile to my face. I think it was an apt finale for this book. It is also nice to see a zombie novel that doesn’t involve the end of the world.
This is a much more straight forward novel than Shaun’s previous The Kult, (which by the way is also a great novel), here he swaps mystery and plot twists for a tightly written novel full of action and tension, which goes to show that Shaun can deftly turn his hand to more than one type of genre.
Deadfall bucks the trend of really terrible zombie novels, so much so it makes all those hours wasted reading a truly awful zombie stories worthwhile. Even if you have become jaded and sick of zombie novels, pick up Deadfall, you will not be disappointed
Shaun’s previous novel The Kult, is currently under going movie development, if anything Deadfall is even more suited to the movie treatment, with any luck some smart thinking producer will have read this and perhaps finally make a decent zombie film.