In this rollicking debut novel, Hamlet successfully transforms bureaucratic infighting into an apocalyptic struggle between good and evil.
At the heart of the action is Anna Wei, a member of the National Security Agency’s Division of Unconventional Weaponry and Tactics, a kind of supernatural SWAT team. Like too many young women in the Washington, D.C., area, Wei is married to her job, although she hooks up occasionally with a striking half-vampire. Hers is not the healthiest lifestyle, as she and her Chaos squad mates employ black magic and enchanted weapons to battle the undead, such as ghouls and vampires. Her co-workers include an immortal and cursed paladin, a Nigerian shaman, a bookish shape-shifter, a brilliant, cranky wizard, and an inept summoner. DUWAT members often find themselves at odds with the “Churchies,” such as the Department of Defense’s Defense Intelligence Agency, who use white magic to combat similar paranormal threats. Both secret groups are soon targeting Ethan Morgan, a former Chaos agent who is now using death magic. Morgan is seeking revenge for the death of his younger brother, a soldier killed in a secret DOD “Perfect Cleansing,” and he doesn’t care who else dies in the process. He has an intricate plan to make himself so powerful that all the forces of good can’t stop him. The novel focuses on the search for Morgan and leads to a pitched conflagration at Arlington National Cemetery from which few walk away unscathed. Hamlet, an admitted, longtime slinger of red tape, does a masterful job of transforming mundane bureaucracy into a supernatural battleground. He has ably fused the disparate genres of political thriller and zombie apocalypse into one book that will satisfy fans of either—no mean feat. Best of all, Hamlet has set himself up to write more such tantalizing hybrids.
A rampaging read with memorable characters that proves to be a promising first installment of a planned series.