Friday, 21 April 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: The Return Man by VM Zito

The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers 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.

My Review: 
Henry is one of the few people alive in the zombie wastelands, looking for his missing wife, and being hired by grieving families to have their zombie relatives put to rest. Now the government have found out about him and they want to hire him to track down a doctor who was working in a prison lab to find a cure-and they won't take no for an answer. Henry and his military escort have a dangerous journey ahead and Henry is not aware that his escort is actually a Chinese agent who plans to kill him after the mission.

This really was a great zombie book, one of the best that I've read. It had all the action and excitement of a zombie book complete with death and gore. Three scenes that really stand out include the pair trying to get some supplies from a train that has been overrun by the undead. There was some serious tension and scary moments in that scene. The dead end on the highway with the crazy guys chasing them was another very exciting bit that had me on the edge of my seat. And the very gripping series of events in the prison were so well written that I didn't want to put the book down. Having all these exciting action sequences are exactly what I look for in this genre. But it is not just action. The tension that the author builds during these scenes is excellent and it keeps you hooked on the story.

Henry is a great hero because he isn't a super hero. He's a normal guy who has adapted to a new way of life and is doing what he can to give peace of mind to the families of the dead, yet sadly he cannot find that peace of mind for himself. He is constantly looking for his wife amongst the undead and takes a detour from the mission in a last hope of finding her. This gave him a very human and sympathetic side and I felt so sorry for the pain he was going through. We see more of his story as he remembers the worst moments of his life just before the zombie outbreak and those incidents become related to his current mission.

Wu is a complex character. On the one hand he is the bad guy who has killed people to get close to Henry, and he plans to dispose of him when he is no longer any use. On the other you see moments when he really seems to connect to Henry, and the reader knows that he is working under orders for his government. Are you bad for doing what you are ordered? Well that is the million dollar question. Then we have the people who have threatened Henry to make him do this job against their will. They have information Henry needs and the power to hurt his friends and are willing to use it against him, which in my eyes made them worse than Wu. We also have the survivalist gang who want to kill them and there is no doubt that you want them to be zombie chow! Having some good bad guys to yell at is always fun!

The zombies are dang scary and dangerous, as we see from the opening scenes of the book and the mayhem just keeps on coming. The descriptions were good with the perfect mix of tension, action, danger and gore. There really was a lot to like about this book and I recommend it to fans of The Walking Dead and the ZA Recht zombie books.
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg


  1. This sounds excellent. I love a good bad guy. They're so hard to find! To the WL it goes.

    1. You don't get well developed bad guys in zombie books very often and he was pretty complex. It's also a stand-alone book which is a pleasant change.

  2. Love the sound of the Chinese agent who's supposed to kill him! I wonder if he suspects... and the tension and action sounds great. And yes great villains are awesome. Adding this bad boy!

    1. Having the Chinese agent in it added a new dimension to the zombie story. I very much enjoyed it and hope to see more books by the author.