The Superpox-99 virus has wiped out nearly the entire human race. Governments have collapsed. Cities have become graveyards filled with unspeakable horror. People have resorted to scavenging from the dead, or taking from the living. The entire industrialized world has become a wasteland of abandoned cars, decaying bodies, and feral animals.
To stay alive, U.S. Deputy Marshal Mason Raines must forage for food, water, and gasoline while outgunning those who seek to take advantage of the apocalyptic anarchy. Together with his giant Irish wolfhound, Bowie, he aligns with survivors of the town of Boone in a life and death struggle against a gang of violent criminals. With each deadly encounter, Mason is forced to accept his place as one of the nation's few remaining lawmen. In a world now populated by escaped convicts, paranoid mutants, and government hit squads, his only hope to save the townspeople is to enforce his own brand of frontier justice.
Halfway across the country, a killer is released from prison. With hopes set on a fresh start, he rescues a young girl desperate to get home. As they travel across the wasteland that once was the United States, they must call upon every bit of strength and courage to survive not only the horrors of the new world but also a violent government agenda.
Dr Jarvis is a psycho scientist who decides to unleash a virus to thin out the population and soon people are becoming infected and dying. At a remote holiday cabin, US Deputy Marshal Mason Raines escapes infection and is discovering bodies between him and the nearby town, and takes the time to rescue an abandoned Irish wolfhound which he names Bowie and nurses back to health. When Mason gets reports about a criminal gang taking over the town, he realises that it is up to him to deal with it.
Mason is very much a take-charge guy and he refuses to stop being a marshal just because the world has suddenly gone to hell. The idea of the town being taken over by a criminal gang does not sit easily with him and he is determined to mount a defence and take back the town so the people can start a new life as a community in the uncertain future. I liked Mason and was rooting for him and Father Patrick to hatch a plan to save the town. There were several good characters amongst the people in the town and I liked the way they were prepared to work together against the gang, despite their own limitations.
There was a lot to like in this book. The opening scenes where Mason was slowly working out what was happening and getting involved in town affairs was handled in what seemed to me to be a realistic manner. I liked the way the scene was set for battle with the criminals and found that interesting as it evolved. The big battle scene was exciting to read and well written, and yes, as usual I was worrying about the dog! WHY are these poor animals always so close to danger!!! It is bad for my nerves!
The other story that we follow is the prison escape of Mason's father Tanner, and as he heads home, he rescues a child from wreckage, unaware that Sam is being sought by rogue government agents who want to capture and use her. Tanner soon becomes aware that they are in danger and not just from the infected people who are starting to display zombie behaviour. Now every survivor must be viewed with suspicion. I liked Sam and Tanner and I did find their situation interesting to read about.
However, I wasn't greatly impressed by the other side story featuring the President. She is worrying about her husband and daughter who are missing, and this is used to manipulate her into signing executive orders which will kill many other survivors. Her decision not to get more information before taking such a drastic solution did not sit well with me and I thought she was portrayed as a weak woman pretending to be a President, and being easily manipulated by evil men around her. I didn't like her much.
The different versions of infected people were interesting. There were those who died from the infection, those infected who recovered but are still damaged by the infection, and now infected people showing zombie traits, which is making the government decide to kill all infected survivors. We know there are infected people alive in the town who helped in the battle so what is their fate going to be and will the town defend them? There are fascinating scenarios being set up for the rest of the series and I will be interested to see what happens next.
I recommend the book to readers of apocalypse and prepper fiction.