The Return Man by VM Zito

(9.2/10) Compelling, captivating and at times hauntingly scary.

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...

I don’t really like Zombies and although I have managed to read a few books based around the subject I generally prefer the comedy takes on Zombies at the cinema. So with that clarifying statement I picked up this book, which sounded post-apocalyptic, and was just cryptic enough to not make me think “zombies”. And I'm glad I did as I found this book to be compelling, captivating and at times hauntingly scary.

The Return Man follows Henry Marco, a man who has stayed behind in the Western States of America after “The Resurrection”, when most people were running (being evacuated) for their lives to what is now know as the Safe States or the Eastern states across the Mississippi. We meet with Henry Marco four years after “The Resurrection” and so have missed the carnage of the early days of the zombie rising (although we do get flashbacks to this time thanks to snatches of Henry’s memories). Henry Marco, like the title of the book suggests is the Return Man. He has made it his mission to deliver peace to the resurrected, to give them a final death by gunshot to the head, and this he does for the relatives of the resurrected who now reside in the Safe States.

Once we have been introduced to Henry Marco and the back story has been established we are dragged, as readers, into an intensive survival story. Whether it is the zombies or the living that cause the most trouble is difficult to say.

I am so glad that V. M. Zito has stuck to old school zombie habits. They are slow moving and this really builds the tension and allows you get to understand how Henry Marco has survived in this ravaged land he now inhabits. I was constantly terrified about what I was about to read, the book is well written and I quickly became addicted a needed to know what happened next and whether Henry Marco will make it to the end alive!

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