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Pay Me in Flesh by K. Bennett
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Aug 26, 11

Read from August 18 to 25, 2011

PAY ME IN FLESH: MALLORY CAINE, ZOMBIE AT LAW
By K. Bennett
Pinnacle Fiction (paperback) (also available in e-book)
August 2011

Book Review by Linda S. Brown

With so many witty one-liners, the reader of PAY ME IN FLESH: MALLORY CAINE, ZOMBIE AT LAW might easily be distracted from the storyline while snickering at the jokes. A review could quite easily be comprised simply of some of those snappy jokes. For example, Mallory’s philosophy: "Making people squirm on the witness stand is one of the things I do best. I like to practice it in the outside world, too." But that review would not do the book justice: there is a story here, and it is a well-crafted zombie/vampire/murder mystery. Trying to untangle the story without giving too much away is the tricky part.

Mallory Caine is an attorney in Los Angeles. She is sexy, smart, aggressive – and dead. She is a zombie. She spends her days defending her clients, some of whom deserve it, some not so much; she spends her nights working the streets (no, not that kind of “work,” although she does get to know a lot of streetwalkers), looking for food (zombies don’t just drop into the local grocers for a freshly harvested brain, after all), trying to discover who murdered her, turned her into a zombie – and why. And what is the source of the Voice in her head? What is it trying to tell her?

When the police call her to a familiar address, Mallory discovers they are trying to arrest a friend of hers, Traci Ann. Traci Ann is a prostitute wanted for murder of a cop. As it happens, she is also a vampire. But Traci Ann’s grandmother is determined to prevent the police from taking her out of the house – after all, everyone knows a vamp can’t go out in the daylight.

To further complicate matters, Mallory has a larger number of adversaries than the average attorney: she must do courtroom battle with her very attractive, very attentive ex-boyfriend, prosecutor Aaron Argula. Who knew zombies had sex drives? Mallory certainly has one, and must fight off appetites of varying sorts whenever she encounters Aaron -- which is often, since he’s prosecuting the case of the murdered cop. Mallory must also fight off a mysterious hooded man who trails around after her, wielding a sword, evidently intent upon beheading her. And she seems to be pursued by a large flock of birds, including a particularly menacing owl.

And then there’s the question of Faith... It’s not every day one encounters a zombie seeking answers from God and comfort from priests. It’s probably even less frequent that the afore-mentioned priests turn into screaming demons. And yet this is Mallory’s life. Or death. Or whatever.

But perhaps the most entertaining feature about Mallory is her interview technique when hunting food (i.e. fresh brain). Her first question for her prey is “Where did you go to school?” She figures if she’s going to eat brain, she’d like it to be relatively intelligent. She has her standards: “Drug dealers are not always the best source of brains, but they’re a step up from the users.”

And, of course, because this is a story set in Los Angeles, home of Hollywood with all its glory and grit, there is a fading movie star and her faithful bodyguard, in a big, beautiful mansion on a hill. And because this is a mystery novel, nothing in that castle is as it seems…

So, Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law, has her hands full (not least of which is making sure she takes enough shark cartilage to keep her hands attached to her arms). PAY ME IN FLESH: MALLORY CAINE, ZOMBIE AT LAW is a unique, entertaining beginning to what promises to be a unique, entertaining series. Read it on a plane or bus – you’ll snicker, you’ll laugh, and your neighbor will most likely uneasily squirm away from you…
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