The Return Man
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The Return Man

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  749 ratings  ·  162 reviews
The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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3.5 Stars.
This is a fun book. There are some books I read that strike me so strongly as a story that would translate well into a movie. The Return Man is one of those movies. I read a lot in this genre. I love survivalist, end of society and end of world books. When I saw this title I grabbed it because it fits everything I love about an action novel. And it did not disappoint. The Return Man had me not wanting to put it down and had me thinking about the world created between its pages long af...more
Before the Resurrection they all had normal lives and families, when all went to the undead their roles and priorities changed. One man Marco, changed completely, once a renowned Doctor hes now a hired Hitman to execute the undead. Returns them, for their families, back to dead as they should not be walking the earth undead. It is a task that requires emotional detachment and one that Marco the marksman has developed on. There are many things he had left behind one being his wife, four years now...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

Henry Marco, former neurologist, is now a gun for hire in the wastelands of what used to be the western US (the Evacuated States). His business partner and former brother in law lives in the east, in the area deemed safe by the government, the New Republicans. Days are spent tracking lost relatives and giving them the peace that their family members desire, with the memory of his wife haunting his every step. Haunted, yes,...more
Matthew Davenport
The Return Man has brought the concept of zombies back from the dead, for me at least. I was getting tired of all the stories that were all identical with the same plots, the same types of protagonists and no real story telling. "Let's just shoot some zombies" had become a way if life for zombie writers, and then, along came V. M. Zito, who decided to actually write a story about a character that you could relate to, that had depth, and that was Henry Marco. This story follows a former surgeon n...more
Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Goodreads

The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers 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....more

It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers 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,...more
Bane of Kings
Original Post:

It didn’t take much convincing to get me hooked on The Return Man, VM Zito’s first foray into the realm of the writing industry. First of all – the appearance of zombies, and as you know if you’ve been following TFF for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan. In fact, although I haven’t recently read many of zombie fiction (to see which zombie-related books that I’ve reviewed, click on the tag at the bottom of the review labelled zombies.)...more
just about the only internal organ that doesn't ever become external in this book is a uterus.

the guts! the gore! the slime! the pus! the ...... ya, the list of icky goes on and on.

but it's still, in a way, a kind of fun read for zombie fans. the premise is way cool: a zombie virus begun on the US west coast has worked its way eastward and been stopped only at the Mississippi River. the US abandons the midwest and the west and goes on about its business, after absorbing the non-infected refugees...more
Marie Sexton
I really loved this book. It's obscenely violent and gory, but hey, it's about zombies! What else would you expect? What surprised me was the depth of the characters and the quality of the writing. Much better (IMO) than most other zombie fiction. So glad I picked this one up!
Richard Kearney
V.M. Zito's first novel, The Return Man, is a well-paced, well-written, and compelling entry in the zombie fiction genre. While it features many elements that will be familiar to zombie fans in terms of plot, setting, and characterization - not to mention abundant quantities of gory details! - the novel maintains an energetic freshness that will hold readers' interest. It even manages to throw in a few new twists.

A few years after a massive rising of the undead has rendered all of the United Sta...more
L.D. Rose
Wow, I honestly cannot even begin to express how much I love this book. From beginning to end, it grabbed me by the throat and never let go. I absolutely fell in love with Henry Marco from the moment I met him (okay, him being a physician had a little to do with it ;)) and his character is fleshed out so so well and I just had to know his story.

I won’t reiterate the premise, but Marco is contracted by surviving family members to hunt and kill their zombified loved ones. He brings back trinkets w...more
Tim Martin
Yes it is a zombie novel. Yes I know that zombies seem to be everywhere on the big screen, on the small screen, in comics, and in novels. They are I guess the new "it girl" of monsters, with the star of vampires fading somewhat (are vampires really even scary anymore, 30 Days of Night and the vampire Nathaniel Cade in Christopher Farnsworth's novels aside?). One can aruge that can be quite interesting if not scary, but well, that is not the topic to be discussed here.

I need to admit up front I...more
Ryan Mishap
Siiiigggghhhh. There's a certain kind of science fiction or action nove--almost exclusively written by me--where the prose is stultifying and inappropriately detailed (when I'm fighting zombies, my thoughts usually drift back to when I met my wife or what my father once told me...and the strangely discolored intestine looped around the thing's legs, just like the garden hose around my mother's legs that summer I joined the marines and trained on XJ-75 Lightning Kill Machines with titanium bolts,...more
‘The Return Man’ by V. M. Zito is a dystopian adventure set in America in the year 2018. Zombies have taken claim to half of America, leaving the East safe and a stronghold. No one, not even though ‘un-infected’ are allowed in.

We meet Henry Marco, a man who has remained out in the Evacuated States instead of obeying the call to retreat to the Safe States the Government managed to defend. He’s out there with a few million zombies, making a living by communicating with his brother-in-law (in the S...more
I admit to a weakness for Zombie books, just can't resist them for some reason. The Return Man was a fun read, a slightly different take on the trope.

The United States is split into the Safe States (the portion of the US to the East of the Mississippi River) and the Evacuated States (West of the Mississippi). Guess which one is full of Zombies? :)

In the Evacuated States, our protagonist Henry Marco lives in Arizona. He acts as a kind of Zombie bounty hunter. Tracking down loved ones for surviv...more
The Return Man is set in a barely future U.S. in which some sort of zombie plague has broken out and the country has been cut in half by a retaining wall at the Mississippi River. Our daring main character is a neurologist by training, but refused to evacuate due to personal reasons, and now passes his time hunting down other people's loved ones and delivering final death to them (Wait, does this sound like Rot Ruin? I hated that.)

The book opens with Marco up in a tree blind having searched for...more
Yet another zombie novel, in which the United States has been afflicted with a plague of the undead. Everything west of the Mississippi has been cordoned off and abandoned to the zombies. Henry Marco has stayed behind, working as a contract killer who "kills" zombies so that they can have their final peace. He is given the task of making his way from his home in Arizona to a prison in California where a vaccine against the zombie disease can be found.

"The Return Man" is structured like a video g...more
This book is the very definition of 'page turner'. The United States manages to contain an outbreak of the 'Resurrection' sickness/virus and separates into safe states/non-safe states. Marco, the main character, stays on the uncivilized, non-safe side and is what people in the safe states call the 'Zombie Hitman'. He makes money off of contract kills - only the target is a zombie; the remnant of someone's family member or loved one that they want taken out/kill...more
When I started "Return Man," I thought it was going to be a typical zombie book, and in some ways it was. It had lots of violent horrifying corpse fighting, it was adventurous and action-packed, and oh, did I mention the corpses? (Yes, it was disgusting. If you don't like blood and gore, this book is not for you. I handled it, but I felt like gagging much of the time.)

However, while sticking to the classic points of the zombie genre (Are we really admitting that some zombie literature is "classi...more
Standard military-issue spoiler warning.

You know what? Not everything needs a stinger. I know, I know, all the Marvel movies make it look like such a good idea, but everyone isn't required to put in an 'after the credits' thing, or in this case, an epilogue. It serves no purpose whatsoever! It doesn't cast the story in a new light, it just makes a character who was kind of an asshole seem like slightly more of an asshole. Every word written about him screamed 'I am the villain', so it's not exac...more
Emma Sea
Very gripping and evocative writing style, ruined for me by a doofus MC and a basic premise I simply cannot believe (no, not the zombies: Marco's job).

And one word, dude: crossbow.
Robert Haines
This book reminds me of a cross between "The Walking Dead" and the "Assassin" series by Robert Ferrigno. A post-zombie dystopia set in a mangled version of America where civilization has been pushed back east of the Mississippi River. It is full of action but the mid-point drags a little and some of the dialogue becomes a bit too much like comic book writing. I also became a little to desensitized to the ongoing violence after a while. After all, there are so many ways to describe a zombie oozin...more
Heather Wilson
I did not hate this book, but I also did not fall in love with it. I finished it more out of a need to finish what I started than a dire need to know what comes next.

Having said that, this writer is fantastic at writing detailed descriptions of what is happening. Almost to a fault. I found myself skimming just to get back to information I found relevant such as story progression and dialogue. It is almost as if Zito wrote the book with the intent on it becoming a movie, which may actually be th...more
Which side of the Mississippi River do you live on?

What would you do if the Mississippi was the dividing line? East of the river is the safe zone; west of the river is Resurrected territory.

Henry Marco is a different type of detective. He and his partner/brother-in-law, Benjamin, take cases from people in the safe zone. Then Marco tracks down the zombified remains of loved ones in Resurrected territory and "returns" them to eternal bliss with a shot to the head (or by whatever means necessary to...more
Carrie Slager

I honestly can’t decide which book I love the most: Feed by Mira Grant or The Return Man by V. M. Zito. And for those of you who know how much I loved Feed, you’ll know that that’s the best comparison I can give. This is the best book I’ve read in the past few months and is a fitting start to my reading challenge.

Marco is living in the Evacuated States, working as a return man, someone who kills the zombies of people who hire him. The logic behind this is that no one wants to know their lov...more
Veach Glines
This story is 'I Am Legend' (suck story, suck film) meets The Book of Eli (not as bad as IAL but not great) as if it were written by the gory hand of Richard Leymon (who could be a zombie in this book).

It's a different take on the "lone doctor/zombie killer/survivor" in that his motivations are clear(er) and we understand his character and the supporting cast as well. I expect Zito will do more, and would like to see the character evolve and his challenges be met in different ways. Change things...more
I don't think a book has ever made me queasy before, and I pride myself on a strong stomach but wow - Zito's got a way with words and paints a gruesome picture or two.
Following Marco, the 'Zombie Hitman', living in the infected Western states of the USA after a zombie apocolypse, Return Man is a clever novel which mixes truly hideous imagery with a gripping, fast-paced storyline and two strong characters. Polar-opposite Chinese-spy, Wu, is a cold nationalistic character supposedly working with M...more
My Inner Shelf
Dans ma frénésie de lectures zombifiantes je suis tombée sur cette nouveauté. Henry Marco, brillant neurologue mais homme peu sociable, a choisi de rester chez lui, du mauvais côté des États-Unis, celui des zombies affamés. Tandis que l’Est se remet tant bien que mal de l’épidémie, Marco offre ses services aux familles des victimes, en les traquant pour leur donner le coup de grâce, les libérant ainsi d’une errance interminable. Mais Marco espère aussi retrouver sa femme, disparue durant la Résu...more
Amanda Cannon
While I initially thought this book started out rather slow and uninteresting, (though, admittedly it could just be that my lack of comprehension skills left me completely confused the first few chapters), The Return Man picks up pace in a hurry, and quickly landed itself on my list of all time favorites. Though I love an occasional zombie movie, I've never been much on the zombie books, all too cliche for me. However, though this one greatly involved the undead, it wasn't the typical rebel grou...more
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Night of the Livi...: November 2012 Selection: The Return Man 1 5 Jan 04, 2014 05:54PM  
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V.M. Zito resides in Connecticut, USA with his wife and daughter. When not writing, he spends his weekdays working as Creative Director at a New England ad agency and his weekends running on trails. THE RETURN MAN is his first novel.
More about V.M. Zito...
Border Crossing: A Return Man Short Story Waiting Room: A Return Man Short Story Eulogies II: Tales From the Cellar

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