By Michael Panush
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
And in the other corner...
Tough guy with zombie army. Check. Crime syndicate boss. Check. Demon summoning motorcycle gang. Check. Fanatical minister. Check. Crooked cop. Check. Evil tycoon with Nazi connections. Check. Evil tycoon assistant with conflicting emotions. Check.
Now place them in a little town called La Cruz, not too far from Los Angeles in the 50s with hot rods, stir a lot and you have the premise of Dead Man's Drive by Michael Panush.
La Cruz seems to be a nice town but it is perpetually on the verge of chaos. The previous mentioned group of anti-hero types called the Donovan Motor Team protects the town but a new series of demonic attacks become a big challenge for them especially since the stalwarts of said town are not all that comfortable with zombies and shamans even if they are good guys. The main protagonist in all this is Roscoe, a recently created zombie with no memory of his past life and deep struggles with who he was and will be.
Dead Man's Drive is one part supernatural adventure and one part crime noir. Michael Panush has his fingers on both styles and bring them together quite well. At times though, I thought the feel of the book tended to lean toward the "cops and robbers" aspects more than the horror side for my taste. The battles are well written but even with demons coming out of the woodwork, I had to remind myself of the supernatural elements. But even if I felt the two elements could have been mixed together a little better it doesn't take away the fact that the novel is a lot of fun and very original. Its best quality is found in the character of Roscoe. He is having quite a struggle remembering his past and when he does, it brings a out a nice back story to the plot. While there is a clear ending to the book, I understand there will be a sequel. I don't know if Roscoe will be the main character in the sequel but I hope we find out more about the rest of the gang and hopefully each will have their turn at the helm, so to speak. It's an intriguing motley crew and that will be what keeps this series enjoyable.