A group of self-proclaimed do-gooders battles a murderous cadre of women at a zombie convention in this farcical debut novel.
Several men, united by a vague goal of improving the world, team up and call themselves the League of Endangered Gentlemen. Specifically, they aim to fight crime, and they draw on their varied skills in areas such as finance, journalism and the culinary arts to do so. When a black-clad group robs the restaurant where they’ve gathered for their first meeting, they take it upon themselves to solve the mystery. In a concurrent narrative, the women of the Society of the Beaver Lodge plan to exact revenge on men for the abuses they’ve suffered; specifically, they aim to use bombs and poison to attack a cooking competition with the aim of killing as many male chefs as possible. They also plan to target a zombie convention known as Zombiepalooza. The two groups’ agendas come to a head in the novel’s closing chapters as the convoluted plot brings them into direct conflict. Cognac manages to juggle the various plotlines with aplomb, oscillating between the League’s and the Lodge’s stories to build anticipation for their eventual skirmish. He doles out the novel’s mysteries—including the villainous Lodge’s true motivations—with an astute economy, often leaving readers wanting more. However, some attempts at humorous, ironic distance result in uninspired clichés; a butler, for instance, is named Jeeves (“a classic name for a classic profession”). The novel’s pacing is also uneven; it spends numerous pages providing superfluous background stories for all the main characters, most of which have little bearing on the present action.
A well-plotted but inconsistently paced adventure novel.