Maberry does some of his best writing in this sequel to 2011’s Dead of Night. This story picks up literally the moment its predecessor ended: cop Dez Fox and reporter Billy Trout are holed up in the Stebbins Little School, trying to keep the U.S. military from killing the school’s 800-odd occupants. Meanwhile, outside, Fox’s partner, J. T., is trying to ward off a mass of zombies. With the introduction of the characters and premise out of the way—an unbalanced scientist has injected a soon-to-be-executed serial killer with a cocktail of biological ingredients, unleashing a zombie plague upon Stebbins County, Pennsylvania—Maberry can jump right into the action. As the zombie outbreak spreads (despite the American government’s homicidally best efforts to contain it), Maberry shifts his focus, alternating between his lead characters and various supporting and walk-on characters—some of the best, most visceral, and most memorable scenes involve characters we see for a very brief period of time: men and women caught up in the tidal wave of undead sweeping across the state. Maberry, no slouch when it comes to action and suspense (his Joe Ledger novels are deservedly very popular), seems to have found new energy here, as though he’s been jump-started by the story he’s telling. He still has a lot of books ahead of him, so calling this his masterpiece would be premature, but a case could be made that this is the best—and most terrifying—book he’s written so far.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, September 2014.