This fifth installment of a series finds zombies in Iowa, part of a sinister plan that vampire and werewolf agents are investigating.
Samuel Johnson has encountered various creatures as an agent for Vampires Against The Evil. These include werewolves, aliens, and fiendish vamps called the Evil Ones, who consume blood directly from humans. But now Samuel and his fellow agents are tracking zombies ambling through residential areas in Des Moines, killing them at the first indication of “dangerous activity.” The appearances of the undead aren’t random, as Samuel quickly determines that black vans are dropping off the zombies. VATE agents search for the source while the zombies become increasingly harder to kill. Meanwhile, lycanthrope Joe Butler, who’s previously worked with Samuel, is on assignment for the Werewolf Organization Of Fighters. He’s shadowing out-of-town Wild Ones—rogue but not feral werewolves. These Wild Ones are meeting with some Evil Ones, though it’s common knowledge that werewolves and vampires hate one another. Joe gets closer to Henry Borman, one particularly suspicious werewolf, by convincing Henry’s pack to take him in. The agent learns of a mysterious third party involved in the unfolding plot and that VATE and WOOF each have a mole. Soon, Joe’s and Samuel’s paths intersect, necessitating their cooperation, however reluctant. As in preceding series entries, the narrative style consists of Samuel’s opinionated written account. But this time, Carpenter (Economies of Blood, 2018, etc.) offsets the vamp’s typical snootiness (he believes all humans and werewolves are stupid) with Joe’s alternating, more amiable accounts. But both perspectives are often humorous. The author also skillfully showcases other narrative modes: a surprise third narrator later in the story and Joe’s condensed, animalistic voice when in wolf form. While the novel is lively and entertaining, it’s occasionally predictable, from who’s ultimately behind the baddies’ scheme to the inevitable converging of Samuel’s and Joe’s cases. Still, it’s fun to watch these two striking heroes at work, whether they’re independent or together.
An endlessly appealing supernatural tale with two charming protagonists.