Maddy's Reviews > Everyone's Dead But Us

Everyone's Dead But Us by Mark Richard Zubro
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's review
Nov 18, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: 2006-reads, bottoms
Read in August, 2006

PROTAGONIST: Tom Mason and Scott Carpenter
SETTING: An island for rich gay men
SERIES: #11 of 11

When Tom Mason, a retired Chicago high school teacher, and Scott Carpenter, a former professional baseball player, got married, Tom's gift to Scott was an annual trip to Korkasi, an island in the Aegean Sea which was the most exclusive and expensive gay resort in the world. The staff on the island cater to the guests' every whim; it's an idyllic escape for the privileged as well as a place where some of the visitors indulge in questionable practices and pleasures.

Shortly before New Year's Eve, a ferocious storm hits the island and all contact with the outside world is cut off, and there's no way to leave the island. Someone takes advantage of the situation and murders the owner of the island, sets off an explosion at the resort's headquarters which kills several employees and goes on a killing spree of horrendous proportions. Tom and Scott take it upon themselves to uncover the murderer before everyone dies. Unfortunately, they are successful.

I am actually amazed that I was able to complete EVERYONE'S DEAD BUT US, because just about every aspect of the book was deeply unsatisfying. There was not one character with whom I felt any connection. Tom and Scott seemed like the same person to me; since Tom is the narrator of the story, he has a bit more depth than Scott. They are described by another character as follows: "They are considered to be studs and very hot. Being that studly with decent money, although not old money, makes some difference. I believe they are really in love." The other characters in the book are complete caricatures. No one is likable—they are spoiled and whiny or confrontational, with dialog that is at times laughable.

Zubro may have been trying to play homage to Agatha Christie with the secluded island setting, but he certainly did not succeed at building a plot that was cohesive and plausible. Maybe there's hidden treasure—it seems that some of the guests may have been using the island to hide major art pieces (e.g., Mona Lisa) for some unknown but likely nefarious purpose. There's possibly an evil cabal of gay thieves; let's not forget the pretender to the French throne or the sadistic football player. There's an Israeli agent who may be there to set up the Korsaki as a terrorist base. Every few pages, another character is dispensed with a bullet to the head. Amazingly, the killer is unable to hit Tom or Scott, even after dozens of shots at them. The motivation for the killings is preposterous, at best. The resolution was so beyond belief that I'm still tsk-ing at it.

It may have been possible for me to overlook some of the failings of the book if Zubro had exhibited skill in his writing. Sadly, that was not the case. I was constantly floored by various turns of phrase and construction of paragraphs. It's hard to imagine that the prose came from an author who has won the Lambda Literary Award and published almost 20 books.

- "The rain would sluice off some of the mess on us….And the rain wasn't as good as your Kenmore in the basement for cleaning in the first place."

- "Sounding like an oboe on downers or Eeyore on his worst possible day, Oser said…."

- "I'd dealt with death while I was in the Marines. I wasn't used to it, not like you get used to the color of your refrigerator."

I did find some of the descriptive passages to be very well done and only wished that Zubro had carried his skill in that area to the writing of the rest of the book.


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