- 4 out of 5 Stars
- 280 pages
- Expected publication: January 15th, 2019 by Diversion Books
- ISBN 139781635764017
- Edition Language English
From the publisher, “Ten years after the world’s oil went sour and a pandemic killed most of the population, Sam Edison is the chief of police of The Little Five, a walled-in community near Atlanta, Georgia. Those who survived share the world with what are known as hollow-heads: creatures who are no longer fully human.
A man and a pregnant teenager arrive at the gate and are welcomed into the town. They begin to settle in when suddenly both are murdered by an unknown assailant. In the course of the investigation, Chief Edison discovers that the girl was fleeing a life of sexual slavery and that some members of the Atlanta community were complicit in the human trafficking network that had ensnared her.
In retaliation for Edison’s discoveries, agents of the network abduct the stepdaughter of the town’s mayor. Sam Edison and three companions track the kidnappers to Athens, Georgia, where they discover that the entire city is engaged in human trafficking. By the time Edison has recovered the kidnapped girl, the other three rescuers have been killed, leaving Edison alone to bring the mayor’s stepdaughter home. Further complicating their return is Sam’s realization that a prominent member of the community is in truth the ringleader of the slave-trading network. Against such great odds, will Sam ever make it to Little Five alive?”
This story is a strange and brutal tale crafted by newcomer Kevin A. Muñoz. Often dark to the point of being physically unnerving and bulging with well-crafted battles between the main character, Police Chief Sam Edison of the Little Five and hollow-heads, unkillable cannibals no longer capable of higher thought. All within the context of a small struggling community fighting to make a home again after an apocalypse of illness and destruction ten years prior.
The story revolves around our main protagonist, Police Chief Sam Edison. A once upon a time coast guard captain, who has fallen into the role of Police chief and leader of a small community called Little Five. Sam struggles daily with memories of the past and the death of Sam’s wife and daughter. Edison continually attempts to atone for deaths that were no one’s fault and spends much of the novel recriminating himself. This causes a compulsive need to protect the innocent much to the detriment of those around him. Two strangers arrive at the fence of Little Five hoping for succor. One of the strangers happened to be a young, pregnant and abused young lady. They are promptly murdered within days of arriving. It is apparent that they were killed to protect a secret. To make matters worse, along with the murders, the beloved stepdaughter of the mayor is kidnaped. Sam feels compelled to the right this wrong, find Abagail, and bring justice upon those who hurt young women.
At this point, the primary basis of the story has been laid, and the pace of the novel picks up. We are treated to battle after well-crafted battle between Hollow-Heads, gunmen, and town traitors on Sam’s quest to rescue Abigail. The reader has a choice at this point, either cheer for Sam or scratch their heads at Sam’s misguided stubborn refusal to abandon this quest. It is the weight of one innocent’s death versus the death of many. That in itself adds to the horror and pacing of the story. I know that me personally, I found myself often wondering at Sam’s motivations, as well as the motives of supporting characters that assisted Sam in his endeavors. This often broke the suspended disbelief of the story for me.
Another quibble I have in an otherwise excellent piece of writing is the use of two plagues. One a strange catch-all cannibal creating disease that has affected the population at large. The other is vague allusions to oil going bad at about the same time as the cannibal creating illness. The fuel going bad sets up plot points further into the story, but I found it unnecessary and even distracting. If facing an apocalyptic scenario, oil would go bad and become scarce as a matter of course. No people means no oil refineries. Bio-diesel would become a tradeable and necessary resource for a community to thrive.
One thing that Muñoz does quite well is creating a believable apocalyptic world, aside from my small quibbles about oil. He creates a setting in which the town, Little Five, is surviving and in some ways flourishing, but never for a moment is it forgotten how close to the edge of destruction they are. It is believable in many of the ways that most apocalyptic scenario stories are not.
The ending is a bit muddled and less satisfying that I would like, but I will leave that to you readers to find out for yourself. All in all, this is a reasonably satisfying read, a bit confusing at times and head-scratching, but still gratifying. If you are a fan of “The Walking Dead” and “A Walk Amongst the Tombstones” by Lawrence Block, I think you will enjoy this.
Thanks to Diversion Books and Netgalley for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon publication.
About the Author
Kevin Muñoz grew up just outside of Philadelphia. After wandering across the country for a few years, he received a PhD from Emory University in 2008. A little later, he decided to leave the academic life behind to pursue his first passion: writing. He has lived in seven U.S. states over the years, observing and adopting each new place as settings and inspiration for his fiction. He spent fifteen years in Georgia, where the seeds of THE POST were planted. He now lives near Seattle with his two beagle traveling companions.