The Return Man.
5 stars out of 5.
The book blurb:
The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness. They call it the Evacuated States.
It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead to deliver peace.
Now Homeland Security wants Marco, for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.
But in the wastelands of America, you never know who – or what – is watching you . . .
The Return Man is a zombie book, set in the USA after a fast spreading virus turns people into zombies causing countless casualties, the Eastern part of the US is then quarantined with most of the survivors left alive being there, called The Safe States. The Western part of the US is where the zombies rule and only a few survivors remain, called The Evacuated States, with the lead character of the title ‘The Return Man’ being one of them.
The main character is Dr Henry Marco who in simple terms ‘returns’ people, what this means is that he kills zombies, he’s not a war waging hero who is attempting to kill every undead, no, he is just a former Doctor, who stayed behind to search for his missing wife.
With the help of his contact in the Safe States he takes jobs from people there who have loved ones that have been turned into zombies. He then kills ‘returns’ the zombie so they remain dead, giving closure to the family so they can grieve for their loss of a loved and gain closure, nyone knowing that there not walking around somewhere out there one of the undead.
The government in the Safe States find out about Henry and use his contact to forcible make him search for a former colleague who went missing not long after the virus started spreading (4 years ago) and who may have a cure to end the plague. The Safe States government aren’t the only ones interested in a possible cure for the plague and with the last known location of his former colleague being hundreds of miles away through zombie infested terrain, it will take Henry on his toughest job yet.
This is a really good book, it’s well written and well paced. The author gives you enough detail without you as the reader ever feeling that the information given is detracting from the actual story. Both the Safe and the Evacuated States are believable areas and you can really picture them in your mind.
The lead character of Henry is really well developed and likeable, we are given enough of his back story so that when he finally has to take on the mission to find his former colleague we can really feel for him. There are a few other minor characters in the book who are all well rounded.
Without going into spoilers, there is one other main character who joins Henry on his job and it’s the relationship between these two that really make this book stand out, they act brilliantly as a counter point to each other and as their plight worsens the relationship between the two grows as they have to rely more and more on each other to get them through their ordeal and this leads to a really moving part at the end of the book.
This book really surprised me, I was expecting a generic zombie novel but The Return Man was so much more and is a great book. There are some moving parts, some stand out terrific moments, horrific moments, the characters, there relationships and the actual ‘return man’ concept all make this far above the standard generic zombie novel out there, it is a compulsive, character driven, page turning read.