Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Hessius Mann #1

Dead Mann Walking

Rate this book
After Hessius Mann was convicted of his wife's murder, suppressed evidence came to light and the verdict was overturned-too bad he was already executed. But thanks to the miracles of modern science Hessius was brought back to life. Sort of.

Now that he's joined the ranks of Fort Hammer's pulse-challenged population, Hessius attempts to make a "living" as a private investigator. But when a missing persons case leads to a few zombies cut to pieces, Hessius starts thinking that someone's giving him the run-around-and it's not like he's in any condition to make a quick getaway...

352 pages, Paperback

First published October 4, 2011

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Stefan Petrucha

264 books254 followers
Stefan Petrucha (born January 27, 1959) is an American writer for adults and young adults. He has written graphic novels in the The X-Files and Nancy Drew series, as well as science fiction and horror.
Born in the Bronx, he has spent time in the big city and the suburbs, and now lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, fellow writer Sarah Kinney, and their daughters. At times he has been a tech writer, an educational writer, a public relations writer and an editor for trade journals, but his preference is for fiction in all its forms.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
68 (20%)
4 stars
118 (34%)
3 stars
93 (27%)
2 stars
39 (11%)
1 star
22 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 68 reviews
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews252 followers
September 5, 2011
4 Stars

I am excited to give you my very first "First-Reads" review:

This book is a great twist on the private eye genre. Here we have Hessius Mann, our protagonist, a former police detective that is now a private eye. Former, you see, as Mann was apparently  convicted wrongly, sentenced to death, killed...then brought back due to the defense finding conflicting evidence contradicting his death sentence. Presently, Mann is scraping by (literally) as a private investigator, thanks to the remarkable scientific progress that has allowed the dead to be brought back to life.

They are brought back to life. Zombies, some are smart, most are dumb, some are juicy, some have dangling parts, most are dried up like jerky, they are called the Chakz. This is not a post apocalyptic world. It is merely an advance in technology where we can now have the wrongfully accused brought back to the living as a sort of atonement. The government went ahead and did just that on the thousands of people killed in the name of justice. These are not cannibalistic, brain eating, or mindless monsters. They are people that is of course unless they go feral, turning into angry, hungry, out of control animals.

Mann has many memories from before, but most are foggy and confusing at best.  He is troubled by his lack of recollection. Troubled by his past. Uncertain about his future. We get some backstory on his life before told by him, his friends, and by the police.  He takes care of a Liveblood named Misty. She is a woman that is also troubled, by drugs, by prostitution, by poverty, and by bad luck with life itself.

Petrucha made this first book in the new series interesting by giving us Mann's story through creative backstory that was tied in to the case that Mann was hired to solve. The focus of the plot is Mann trying to find out who is cutting up the  Chakz community. Heads are rolling as Mann finds himself a target, puts his friends at risk, and causes another to shed a few pounds as a result of some bad decision making. 

There is a great deal of bigotry, oppression, racism, and hatred of "Livebloods versus Chakz".  Because Chakz can be so varied in level of intelligence, some are treated as less than pets. The plot is straight forward but there are a couple of good twists that are common in the mystery genre. Hessius Mann is a likable protagonist, and a strong enough character to carry a series. The book closes all the main plot lines in a real page turning fashion. By the end, we the reader are left looking forward to more.

I enjoyed this fast read. I liked the detective story with a zombie twist. I must confess though, I am a genuine a zombie-phile, a real zombie-aficionado. I recommend this book for the mystery readers and the undead readers.
Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews611 followers
Read
October 15, 2011
The word "noir" doesn't even begin to capture the dark, gritty world of DEAD MANN WALKING. Hessius Mann is an undead Humphrey Bogart, battered and flawed and wry, and his relationships with the other lost souls in Fort Hammer are poignant moments in this mix of mystery and undeath.

Petrucha's zombies, called "chakz" (mangled Spanish for “jerky”, as their bodies dry out), come back to life with lowered IQ’s, memory loss, and bodies that cannot heal beyond what Krazy Glue and stitches can hold together. They struggle not just against the betrayal of their own flesh but an almost complete lack of societal protection. Memory loss makes a chakz’s testimony inadmissible in court, assuming the police ever bother to show up, and chakz communities are under regular attack by roving bands of "livebloods" come to hack up the undead for weekend sport. It's a novel twist to hide in the dark with zombies, afraid of the living coming to kill them, but Petrucha isn't just flipping things around for kicks. The world he writes is grim and sad and heartbreaking, but also darkly compelling and comedic. The practical considerations of being the living dead are fascinating when viewed through the lens of Hessius Mann’s dark humor. Mann deals with the decline of his body with a steady resolve that says less about having hope than about him having already faced the worst the world can offer. What can they do, kill him again?

While not a romance, DEAD MANN WALKING could be considered a love story, a portrait of the best and worst humanity is capable of when faced with a vulnerable population that is mistrusted and reviled. For those who found the political dynamics of Nancy Holzner’s Deadtown series interesting, DEAD MANN WALKING offers a grittier, and in many ways more affecting, world where society struggles to find a place for loved ones returned. The mystery that animates Mann for the whole of this book swept me away, only for the ending to remind me that there is a bigger struggle looming over it all.

Sexual Content: Kissing, references to prostitution, pedophilia, and multiple partner sex.
Profile Image for Bastard.
42 reviews56 followers
January 13, 2012
http://bastardbooks.blogspot.com/2012...


Hessius Mann used to be a police detective, with a photographic memory, and anger issues. Now, he's simply a private detective with some memory issues to go along with his rotting skin. Dead Mann Walking is the first book in the Hessius Mann  urban fantasy series by Stefan Petrucha, it was quite a cool novel.

A new technology was developed that enabled bringing back people from the dead, essentially making them zombies. Hessius Mann is one of these zombies, and he gets entangled in a serial killer's scheme of decapitating them, and also in an inheritance war between siblings, some that are alive and a zombie that is set to inherit everything. Problem is no one cares about zombies, so it's up to Mann to figure things out. Which is complicated, with people trying to kill him, particularly his former co-workers in the police who want to get revenge on him since they blame him for beating his wife to death. Of course, he's having memory problems; zombies are a bit forgetful.

Dead Mann Walking is a novel that I found to be highly amusing, mainly because the narrative has plenty of dry humor. Hessius Mann has a narrative style that is quite unique to me, reminds me a bit of Charlie Huston's Joe Pitts Casebooks . This is more evident in character interactions and on general atmosphere of novels coupled with the side characters. Mann in particular has an ability do some very interesting observations, which I personally find quite humorous. Often throwing some random phrase in the middle of paragraphs which seems out of place, but when you think a bit more on it things start making sense. Just love that kind of stuff.

The novel itself, though not a perfect comparison, comes off to me as a zombified Memento  (you know the awesome movie with Guy Pearce with anterograde amnesia). Mann though also forgetting a lot of memories from his past, he has trouble retaining new memories. So he goes around with his voice recorder trying to get by, that is, when he remembers that he's carrying a recorder or where he has it stored. I find it to be a curious dynamic, when the character is chasing leads, then forgets about those leads, getting mislead by new evidence and unable to connect it with previous evidence he had collected.

Though highly enjoying the novel, it's not without it's flaws. It took me a bit to get into it; I thought the narrative had a bit too much exposition. This was balanced out with the interesting observations I mentioned before, but it made the plot progress a bit slower and the worldbuilding less organic. Also the mystery became predictable, though doing a great job in keeping things off balance early on, the reader should be capable of putting things together fairly easily. Mann's struggle to figure what's happening helps things out though, mainly because he has all he needs to figure things out, plus great instincts; he's simply handicapped.

In general, I'm not a fan of zombies, yet it seems like all I've done this year is read zombie books for one reason and another. Still, I found the zombies here to be really good. There are different types of zombies, with different levels of intelligence. Just a good variety within them, with different sort of problems they have to face, particularly one's that have experienced a traumatic past. Given that most of them seem to be people who seemingly have been wrongly executed (while they were really alive), then many of the zombies will be facing a lot of emotional distress. On the other hand, zombies have also an emotional detachment, they don't seem to feel, so it's a weird situation all told.

There's plenty to like here, particularly with the themes employed. Questions about the soul arise, what makes someone alive, questions about identity vs. your previous life's identity. A lot of social issues arise, and interestingly it might have some in common with the "Occupy" movement recently as well (don't quote me on this), as well with segregation and human rights. Also the cost of the quest towards immortality.

Quite an introspective novel also, as much as a zombie is capable of introspecting, but with a very curious ending which makes readers see Mann's experience through the novel in a new light as well as how he perceives the world, but more importantly himself. The novel is simply an exploration of Hessius Mann's world, both external and internally; society and self.

Also, if you say Hessius very fast it might sounds a bit like Jesus. Don't know, food for thought.

Stefan Petrucha's book is simply a winner. Though a bit disappointing mystery wise, it turns into an interesting thriller with an underlying abundance of concepts that will make the readers think beyond the scope of the novel. And just a lot of fun, with plenty of action, and my kind of humor. I recommend Dead Mann Walking to all urban fantasy fans, particularly one's interested in a different pace with a narrative voice that stands out from the norm.
Profile Image for Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews).
601 reviews202 followers
October 4, 2011
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2011/10/...

Dead Mann Walking is zombies,but with a twist. These zombies aren’t mindless shamblers,instead they are sentient beings. They’re also not the risen dead come to life as a result of some sort of virus or spell. Using good ol’ American ingenuity,a solution to the rapid rise of innocent death penalty victims was born,and upon exoneration,were brought back from the dead. The process soon became somewhat of a fad,with families bringing back loved ones left and right. However,folks soon realized that what came back wasn’t quite the same. We’re not talking Pet Cemetery creeping evil here,but some people,upon coming back,did seem to lose some of their higher thinking ability,and the possibility of going feral always lingers. The undead now gather in enclaves,trying to keep to themselves and also staying hidden from the hakkers,groups that take pleasure in torturing and killing the chak (zombies.)

Hessius Mann,PI and ex-cop,is one such individual,having been exonerated after being convicted and put to death for the murder of his wife. Unfortunately,his memory isn’t what it used to be,and he relies on an LB (liveblood) assistant,Misty,to keep his daily affairs in order. The constant threat of rot and the near constant worry of going feral don’t make life easy,but when a client shows up and offers a wad of cash to find a missing person,Mann just can’t say no. Mann and his client travels into the Bedlands,an old mattress factory which now houses a large group of chaks. The man the client is looking for is rumored to be there,but finding the missing man is just one tiny part of this story. A serial killer is at work,decapitating chaks and keeping the heads as trophies,and the killer may have more to do with the case then Mann ever could have suspected. When a possible connection to his wife’s murder comes to light,Mann will have to dig very deep to find the truth,and what he finds may destroy everything he holds dear.

I loved this take on the zombie genre! The author has created a cast of characters that was great fun to get to know,and Hessius Mann is up there in my top ten list of favorite PIs,zombie or not. In Dead Mann Walking,you’ll explore a world where humans and chaks live very uneasily together,and chaks are treated like second class citizens. There’s definitely some commentary here on how we treat certain groups,using zombies as a metaphor,but nothing heavy handed,and it adds a humanity to the genre that is sometimes hard to find. Urban fantasy,horror,and noir fans will find a lot to love about Dead Mann Walking,and Mann’s vulnerability and his desire to find out the truth,drives this unusual and fascinating novel. This is the first book that I’ve read by Stefan Petrucha,and I love his writing style,his wit,and his uncanny ability for clever word play. Don’t miss Dead Mann Walking,a wonderful start to a series that will certainly be on my auto buy!
Profile Image for Gary.
67 reviews15 followers
January 29, 2012
Dead Mann Walking is an urban fantasy that manages to break free from the pack of most of the other urban fantasies I've read. Most of those others involve sexy vampires, sexy werewolves, wizards, or other...well, romantic figures. Ghosts. Fairies. Elves. That kind of thing.

Hessius Mann is a zombie. But they don't call them that. They call them chakz, after the Spanish word for "jerky," or "dried meat."

Mann, who was a policeman in life, was accused of murdering his wife (for good reason), and found guilty. He was executed for the crime. And then exonerated. To give him a "second chance" of sorts, he was revived. The hell of it is, he doesn't remember whether he actually did it or not. It's all lost in a haze. Chakz' memories aren't what they were in life. Mann doesn't like to think about it too much. What if he remembers...and it turns out he did kill her? Could he "live" with himself, knowing that?

Unlike most chakz, Mann is pretty lucky. He's in one piece with few nicks and cuts, although the injuries he's received since his raising are easy enough for his assistant Misty to fix with an exacto knife, needle, thread, and super glue.

He's running a mostly unsuccessful private investigation business. Chakz are universally reviled. Not only are they outcast, they have to deal with the constant threat of harassment by Hakkers, gangs of young thugs who think it's fun to torture and/or destroy the undead. And even though most chakz are able to hold things together pretty well, mentally...occasionally one slips and turns feral, becoming like those Romero-type zombies that mindlessly kill and eat any living humans--Livebloods--they come across. That doesn't make chakz any more loved.

A lawyer visits Mann at his office one day to offer him a substantial sum of cash to find his client's heir--who is a chak--and bring him home into the loving arms of his family so he can inherit the family fortune. Mann doesn't look a gift horse in the mouth, and takes the money--and the case. But then, several chakz are discovered in pieces. Minus their heads.

Mann soon realizes that the cases are related, and once he starts investigating it, he stirs up all kinds of trouble in the community, and uncovers a plot that will endanger his unlife several times over. But the police are no help--they all think he killed his wife, after all, and it's just chakz who are being disposed of, not real people--and the only liveblood who'll help is Misty, who has her own demons.

What I really liked about this novel is that not only does it have the requisite Mystery That Must Be Solved™, there's quite a few things in there that hold a bright light up to how society tends to treat those it values least. The people it chooses not to notice. The people it wishes would just go away. A chakz' existence is pretty bleak, and most of them didn't ask for it. It's not really life they're living so much as it is mere existence. They don't have any of the animal drives of the living--sleep, food, water, air, sex--and they aren't welcome anywhere. What's left to them?

The book doesn't shy away from these questions, either. It addresses them head on. At the end of the book, the legal status of chakz comes under scrutiny and undergoes a drastic change, which should provide a very interesting backdrop for subsequent books in the series.

Make no doubt about it: In many ways, this is a bleak story. With bleak characters. Living in a bleak world. It is not light-hearted and fluffy. It is probably not going to uplift your soul or make you shed tears of happiness and joy. There are no wise-cracking heroes who always get the girl, here. In fact, even the good guys aren't always so great. But I think that makes them more interesting to read.

And it is a very good read. The plot makes sense. The pacing is good. The characters are not just flat caricatures of movie monsters, but have some actual depth. There are some very interesting secondary characters that I look forward to seeing come back in later volumes. There are a few places where you'll laugh, and there are a few places where you'll squirm. And there's at least one scene that should give you the heebie-jeebies. (Heh-heh!)

But you'll keep turning the page because you want to know what happens next.

And isn't that the hallmark of a good book?

I'll definitely be looking for the subsequent volumes.
Profile Image for Ren Thompson.
Author 3 books15 followers
November 6, 2011
Hessius Mann, wrongfully executed for the murder of his wife, is brought back to “life” by way of a new scientific procedure known as “Ripping”. When this procedure became accessible to the general public, people started bringing back their relatives like crazy, unaware of the downside to this great plan. The Auntie Lulu that came back from the dead is not the Auntie Lulu that they remembered. The people that were brought back were more or less zombies now or the politically correct term “Chakz.”

Hessius is luckier than most of the Chakz running around. He has somewhat of a decent memory, can function pretty well and still retains his ability to know right from wrong. With the help of Misty, his “Live-Blood” assistant, Hessius tries to make a living as a private investigator and to keep from going “feral”. His memory is foggy at the best of times and he relies on a tape-recorder to keep his facts straight. Misty, his girl-Friday, has her own demons but is totally devoted to Hessius and is quite handy with a needle, thread and some crazy glue

Hessius and all of the other chakz are relegated to the outskirts of Fort Hammer, away from “polite” society. The Chakz community is filled with chakz in various stages of, how should I say it, Zombie-itis. While some are high functioning like Hessius and have all of their limbs, there are quite few that are just a hot mess. Not only do they run the risk of going “feral” (think of the end scene of the classic Day of the Dead by the great George A. Romero) the Chakz also have to deal with marauding Hakkers, the self-righteous vigilantes that came into their community and hunt them down just because they can. The Chakz have no rights and are rarely treated with respect. It’s a shame, really, since I seriously doubt any of them wanted to come back to life in the first place.

When Hessius is approached by a “Live-Blood” to find a missing heir, who also happens to be a Chak, he is led on a wild chase that has him wondering exactly what, or whom, he should be looking for. The headless bodies of Chakz are turning up, and Hessius can’t remember killing his wife. As he starts to peel the layers back, one at a time, on his current case, he slowly realizes how each piece is falling into place for him regarding that fateful night.

Mr. Petrucha takes the zombie lore and twists it around into an amazing read. Told from Hessius’ narrative, this story, from the first page, doesn’t lag one bit. It pushes you right through to the end. I was so absorbed that I found myself going back to re-read some pages. Not because it didn’t make sense but because it was that damn good.

For those who love zombies, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. For those who can’t wrap their heads around the word (zombie), trust me when I say that its not about the gore. It’s about a stylishly written, very humourous detective novel with strong characters that you can’t help but to root for. Mr. Petrucha has firmly put himself right on my “Must Buy” list.

If you are looking for something completely different, hilarious and fast-paced, Dead Mann Walking is for you.
Profile Image for Qwill / The Qwillery.
56 reviews90 followers
October 12, 2011
My description and thoughts:

Dead Mann Walking is the first in the Hessius Mann series by Stefan Petrucha.

Hessius Mann is a zombie (chak), but not the shuffling zombie of the Romero movies. Hessius is a sentient high functioning chak. He's one of the lucky ones having been brought back to 'life' before he had deteriorated much. His reanimation was sanctioned by the government because of his wrongful conviction for his wife's murder. In addition to those reanimated due to a miscarriage of justice, many were reanimated because their loved ones missed them. Without proper care a chak can rot and all of them can become feral and have to be put down. Reanimation for loved ones rapidly became unpopular. Chakz became segregated from society and mostly reside in shanty towns and The Bones, an area of Fort Hammer.

Hessius has a liveblood (human) assistant, Misty, who helps run his office, patches him up when he's hurt (glue and stitching), and helps to keep him in the here and now so he does not become feral. Chakz have memory issues, even the higher functioning ones. Hessius mainly uses a recording device to help him remember things, but he has to remember he has the device.

Hessius is hired to find an heir who is also a chak. The job provides much needed funds. In addition to the case, Hessius is bothered by the news that a chak has been found chopped up in the desert. For some reason this murder sticks with him. What Hessius doesn't know is that accepting the missing heir case will put him up to his neck in something far more serious.

Stefan Petrucha has created a terrific world for Hessius Mann. He peppers the story with fascinating details, unique terminology and pop culture references that make the world both more substantial and more enjoyable. I was fully engaged with this world while reading Dead Mann Walking. Hessius Mann is both likable and compelling. Despite his memory and lifeless issues, he's a first-rate PI. The secondary cast of characters is also well-crafted with their own interesting life/unlife stories. The bad guy was more than suitably creepy. Dead Mann Walking is a noirish mystery/thriller with a new twist on zombies, a great detective and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

I give Dead Mann Walking 4 1/2 Qwills. Originally posted at The Qwillery.
Profile Image for Beth Dawkins.
Author 7 books21 followers
October 18, 2011
Hessius Mann is an undead PI. He was accused of his wife’s murder and killed. In this world when someone dies they can be brought back, so when evidence turned up that he was no killer he was brought back. He is hired to track down an undead man with a similar back ground. Soon there are reports of hacked up bodies, and Mann feels as if he has some kind of connection to them.

I like zombie stories, but this isn’t one. Mann is undead, but not a zombie. They call them chakz. Chakz can go feral, and when they do they become zombie like. They can’t spread any zombie given disease, but they can kill. Mann’s world is a very dark and gloomy place. The dead are oppressed, and tend to live in the bad parts of town. It is even a sport for some humans to run them up and hack at limbs. The majority of undead are not very smart, they forget things easily, and have a tendency to smell funny.

Mann is a great character. In some ways he understands why humans, or livebloods, don’t want the undead running around. I usually don’t like PI characters, but I liked Mann. He is one of the smart ones, but has a slipping memory, and although his organs are dried up, he has a big heart. Sometimes when he tries to do things for the best, they end up blowing up on him in the long run. He is a character I never got tired of reading.

The book never slowed down for me. The environments are richly creepy, and the characters are all very unique and interesting. The story was a basic finding the bad guy and putting an end to him. As quick as Mann puts out one fire he is tossed into another. How Mann sees the other characters, and describes them is a part of what makes the story, and it’s unfolding so interesting. Despite the basic plot I never saw what was coming.

I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It has a creepy factor, but never frightened me. The scenes are eerie to the point that some are hard to swallow. It never bogged down, and it constantly kept me interested. It is a great Halloween story, and a series that I plan to continue, but I wouldn’t recommend it to the squeamish.
4 reviews3 followers
September 17, 2011
This is not the type of book I would normally read. I'm not a huge fan of detective stories. I do have a fondness for zombies, however, and that is why I entered the giveaway. Who knew that I would end up becoming a fan of both the book and the genre.

The hero of the book, Hessius Mann, is a zombie detective. Not a detective for zombies (although he is that too)- he is an actual zombie who also happens to be a detective. The zombies in this novel are not your average walking dead like the ones I grew to love in George Romero's fabulous movies. No, they are actual thinking, feeling undead beings. Mann was executed for killing his wife, but when it was determined that he might actually be innocent, he is brought back to life. A former cop, he His world is dark, gritty, and full of danger. He has an assistant who is still one of the living, a former crack addict with a heart of gold, and a knack for stitching up and crazy-gluing loose zombie body parts.

This book is really well-written, and a real page turner. If you like detective novels, or zombie novels, you will definitely like this. If, like me, you aren't a huge fan of either, you should still give it a try. I know I will be picking up any sequels starring Hessius Mann that Stefan Petrucha writes.
Profile Image for Bailey Meeker.
34 reviews
September 24, 2011
I got this book through a goodreads giveaway.

This book is seriously good urban fantasy. Think Jim Butcher, but with a man whose only power is that he's dead. Unlike the typical urban fantasy detective, he's forgetful, kind of thick, and far from a lady magnet. He tends to shamble from place to place, and can't use a powerful weapon in case it dislodges his arm. But he uses his experience as a police detective to help other "chakz" (zombies) that the government ignores.

The main character, Mann, is a former death row inmate who was resurrected when doubt was laid on his case. However, everyone thinks he's guilty, and he's not sure if he's innocent. He's no Harry Dresden, although he tends to protect his closest friends.

The undead condition, including rotting and being put back together with superglue, is also extensively explained. Regular liveblood humans are terrified of zombies, which sometimes go feral and kill people. So you still get some Rameroesque goodness.

This book is a great start to a new urban fantasy series, and fans of the genre should add it to their reading lists asap.
29 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this as my first first-reads experience. The story of Hessius Mann, private detective who also happens to be a zombie, was funny, engaging, and left me looking forward to another book in this series.

Seeing as we are currently inundated with vampire books, movies, and t.v. shows it was nice to read something a little different. It also helped that it was well written and I found myself rooting for Hessius to solve the mystery and keep his sanity intact. I would definitely recommend this to others.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,093 reviews33 followers
November 3, 2019
Even by zombie standards, this is just too unbelievable. I thought I would finish - I got almost halfway done. But when I realized I wasn’t interested in reading the sequel to this, why would I even finish it then?
Profile Image for Candace.
645 reviews187 followers
October 27, 2011
This review was first posted on my blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com
This book was a total surprise for me. I was a bit hesitant to pick it up but I figured I'd at least give it a try. I'm not a big zombie fan, some zombie books are okay and I've read a few that I ended up loving, but I'm still a bit wary of them. Luckily I'm open minded enough to at least try things because I would have missed out on a great story if I hadn't bothered! I ended up liking this one a lot!

This book doesn't have the typical zombies. No, they are people who were brought back by the government, usually because they were wrongly convicted and executed. Some were brought back by family members as well. And these zombies aren't really the typical zombies. They are at all different functioning levels. Some are able to hold jobs, others just barely hang on to a shred of sanity and others are completely feral and are more of the 'typical' zombies. They are usually 'put down' immediately though and aren't allowed to roam freely.

Now Hessius Mann is higher functioning zombie who use to be a cop. Now he works as a private investigator. Unfortunately remembering things is difficult and he has a nice liveblood (living human) assistant who is able to help with pretty much all his needs as well as kind of taking care of him when he needs it. She patches him up when he's injured, she helps him remember things (though his recording device does most of that) and she helps him stay sane. Because it's easy to lose it when you're a zombie and then you go feral and well, then you're killed for good.
I really liked Hessius and felt like he was portrayed realistically (you know, considering he's a freaking zombie!) due to his condition. He has a good heart and he works hard to be a good person, er, zombie. He also says some funny things and is incredibly brave.

While the story has one main plot arc, which was absolutely fantastic, it has mini arcs within it which kept me on my toes as there was constant action. There wasn't really any downtime! It was just one thing after another and it made the book a fast read.

There was lots of creepy and plenty of UGH moments. As a matter of fact, I advise you to not read while eating, or directly before bed. But either I'm not as creeped out in my old age or I'm just getting use to things because I was okay with it all. I mean, it was definitely more then I would think I would like, but the story overall was just so great I kind of had to take the creepiness and ugh along with it. And it all worked great.

I definitely recommend this to adults who enjoy zombies, urban fantasy, horror and mysteries. This is definitely one that would fit the 'guy book' category as there's no romance and lots of action and gross stuff.
Profile Image for The Reading List (Megan).
47 reviews10 followers
December 8, 2011
I was easily swept away into this zombie novel because it is a completely different take on the urban fantasy genre.

Petrucha has done his research on zombies, even going so far as to creating different levels of cognitive awareness which varies from zombie to zombie. Fortunately for Hess he came back "highly functioning" which means he is much more intelligent than some of the other types of chaks. But all chaks, even the higher functioning ones, have a hard time remembering things. Hess often records important information into a handheld recorder. These zombies are relatively harmless though, unless they have a melt down and go "feral", which esscentially means that they revert to typical zombie-like manner and shamble around and attack humans. However, chaks are quite strong and if they bite or grab something or someone there's no way to make them let go.

Petrucha also experiments with the idea of what happens to a zombie's soul after it is dismembered. It takes a lot to detach a chak's soul from its body. Even if the body is completely dismembered the heads still talk and after one chak's flesh is melted away it continues to exist as a talking skeleton.

I also love how the world building in this novel. The towns where the Chaks live have a gritty and desolate feeling to them. Chaks are second class citizens and treated as such. I felt bad for them since they seemed to be genuinely peaceful creatures, trying to make something of their lives, after their families deserted them and not even the homeless or the drug addicts will have anything to do with them.

Hess' is also very tongue-in-cheek and it was very easy for me to identify with him. He says funny things and he's cynical! All the time! Maybe it's because I'm typically cynical minded by nature, but I loved the witty writing style and quickly found myself liking Hess.

There is nonstop action and suspense all the way to the end as I kept trying to guess who the zombie killer was. Every time I thought I had it figured out I was proved wrong. I was surprised up until the very last page.

I also liked the fact that there is no romance in this novel. I like romance in a novel when the focus is small, but honestly I would rather read books where vicious monsters attack and everyone runs around like a bunch of crazy people until the hero or heroine arrives. My ideal novel also has lots of gore and action sequences thrown in for good measure.

A lot of urban fantasy I wouldn't recommend to my guy friends because even an inkling of romance in a novel is like instant death for them. Dead Mann Walking is a guy's book through and through.

Honestly, I could write an entire novel about what I loved about this novel. One thing for certain is that I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

Read the entire review with the summary on my blog: http://readinglist-m.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Anna.
217 reviews6 followers
November 15, 2011
Livebloods call us chakz-a mangled version of charqui, or, en ingles, jerky-dried meat. If we're still oozing, whch is pretty rare, they call us gleets or juicers. Then there are danglers, but I'll leave that definition to the imagination.~Hessius Mann


It's like the holidays came early this year and every couple of weeks I am lucky enough to read a really fabulous book, one that I would easily recommend to every person that I know. Dead Mann Walking is exactly that kind of book, full of action and suspense, all wrapped together with an almost detective noir vibe. A real urban fantasy zombie thriller from start to finish.


It's apparent from the beginning that this zombie lore wasn't just being rehashed, instead Petrucha reinvents the zombie mythology with a world that makes chakz a believable member of society. Just like with regular folks, some are good, some are bad, and others just function better. In most cases, chakz do better when they have a purpose, again, just like with most regular people. It's a strange day indeed when you stop to contemplate the role that zombies might play in the day-to-day...but Hess makes you wonder.



The standout of the story is the backstory and worldbuilding. The method for reanimating corpses is a little bit Frankenstein with a whole lot of science fiction, something that doesn't necessarily seem all that farfetched. Scary, right? You can absolutely see how humans might try something like trying to reanimate corpses in a feeble attempt to right past wrongs. Humans trying to cheat death? Nope. Not us.



That's how we do things in Fort Hammer! Rush in where angels fear to tread, then suddenly realize that maybe the angels, being angels, had the right idea in the first place. Send a man to the moon? Sure! Bring peace to the Middle East? Why not? Raise the dead? Line 'em up!


I was surprised at how many subjects in the book are relevant to reality and modern day living. Things like chemicals in buildings that poison human beings, disposal of toxic waste into rivers that harm both the environment and people, civil rights, police brutality, and political corruption are just a few that I found to be woven seamlessly into the urban fantasy world. Who knew that Hess had the ability to enlighten readers to the things that really matter, like truth, justice, friendship...the American way!



Dead Mann Walking has a cohesive and tightly woven storyline that will keep you reading well into the night. Chakz, like any good zombie, are scary and fascinating in equal measure. The ick factor isn't too terrible, but at times I was a bit squeamish. Yep, once again, I am a big baby about zombies, but despite my fear and the threat of nightmares, this book was too good to put down.
Profile Image for Stephanie  G.
1,122 reviews302 followers
October 18, 2011
Hessius Mann is an undead PI. He was accused of his wife’s murder and killed. In this world when someone dies they can be brought back, so when evidence turned up that he was no killer he was brought back. He is hired to track down an undead man with a similar back ground. Soon there are reports of hacked up bodies, and Mann feels as if he has some kind of connection to them.

I like zombie stories, but this isn’t one. Mann is undead, but not a zombie. They call them chakz. Chakz can go feral, and when they do they become zombie like. They can’t spread any zombie given disease, but they can kill. Mann’s world is a very dark and gloomy place. The dead are oppressed, and tend to live in the bad parts of town. It is even a sport for some humans to run them up and hack at limbs. The majority of undead are not very smart, they forget things easily, and have a tendency to smell funny.

Mann is a great character. In some ways he understands why humans, or livebloods, don’t want the undead running around. I usually don’t like PI characters, but I liked Mann. He is one of the smart ones, but has a slipping memory, and although his organs are dried up, he has a big heart. Sometimes when he tries to do things for the best, they end up blowing up on him in the long run. He is a character I never got tired of reading.

The book never slowed down for me. The environments are richly creepy, and the characters are all very unique and interesting. The story was a basic finding the bad guy and putting an end to him. As quick as Mann puts out one fire he is tossed into another. How Mann sees the other characters, and describes them is a part of what makes the story, and it’s unfolding so interesting. Despite the basic plot I never saw what was coming.

I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It has a creepy factor, but never frightened me. The scenes are eerie to the point that some are hard to swallow. It never bogged down, and it constantly kept me interested. It is a great Halloween story, and a series that I plan to continue, but I wouldn’t recommend it to the squeamish.
Profile Image for Brian Blocker.
Author 3 books2 followers
November 3, 2011
Hessius Mann is a zombie private detective. You read that right. Now, does that mean he investigates zombies, or is he a zombie that investigates live bloods? Yes and yes. Brought back from the dead by the judicial system to correct executions based on wrongful convictions, Hessius Mann is one of the ‘lucky ones’. Now he exists in a plane between the living and the dead, a gray area that society barely recognizes as relevant. Mann would fight to clear his name and find his wife’s real killer, if only he could remember.

Stefan Petrucha’s newest offering, Dead Mann Walking, is a different take on the zombie genre. Instead of a virus or secret government testing being responsible for the reanimation of the dead, it is capitalism. Love ones that were lost too early are brought back, thanks to the miracle of science. To atone for their own mistakes, the courts also call upon this new technology. For the zombies, or ‘chaks’ as they are affectionately called, their second chance at living is no life at all. Trapped in limbo with no rights or prospects, caring for a body that can no longer heal itself and looking for a man with a penchant for decapitating chaks, Mann is in a race against his very being, desperately trying to make sense of his life before all that he was slips away forever.

Not only is this an entertaining look into the daily struggles of the undead, but it is also an interesting look at society as a whole and how individuals are treated differently, not merely by the color of their skin but by the life contained within. It is a stark reminder of our own history. Mann probes the underbelly of this society, safe inside its walls and barbed wire, inside parties where chaks are playthings and where re-given life has no value. This book is more than a zombie ‘who-done-it’. It is a hard question about not when life begins, but when it ends.
Profile Image for John.
Author 26 books26 followers
April 1, 2012
Equal parts Raymond Chandler, George Romero and Laurel K. Hamilton -- but original enough to be called its own beast. Yes, this is a zombie novel written with braaaiiinnssss, and also quite a bit of pathos. Hessius Mann is a great character, and his narration gives us a book crackling with snapping zombie bones and witty noir humor.

I have to say, I really feel for the zombies in this universe, who are the recently dead resurrected by science gone wrong and lacking a key piece of their personalities. They lack passion, memory, and drive. They're the true living dead: barely hanging on to what used to make them human. Mann is better than most, but even he is struggling to cling to what passes for life among the undead.

The mystery in the book isn't that much of a mystery -- since Mann's braaaaiiiinsss don't quite work right, he's easily fooled, more so than the reader. But that doesn't lower the stakes. If anything, it raises them. Mann is a hero trying to protect people who can't think well enough to protect themselves, and who are abused by the rest of society. I liked that, a lot.
35 reviews
June 4, 2013
I thought this was interesting enough...for a zombie story. It seems as if for a few years now I've heard of way too many books and movies with zombies. I usually steer clear of it all because after a while, it does become repetitive right? I've already read a book with a zombie detective and it was very colorful but I think I enjoyed reading this one more for some reason. I felt like I was watching an old black and white crime movie sometimes and if not for the mentions of modern technology, it could have easily fit in that realm. I'd give this four stars if not for the hints of romance or at least future romance toward the end of the book. I don't know if the sequel goes into that a bit more or not but I'll probably avoid it. True it is just a really small part of the story but I'm severely allergic to even a hint of romance. Also, I feel it drags a bit towards the end. It's a very dark, pessimistic sort of story. I think how you view the ending is dependent on whether or not you're a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person
Profile Image for Julia.
2,512 reviews67 followers
October 15, 2011
The word "noir" doesn't even begin to capture the dark, gritty world of DEAD MANN WALKING. Petrucha's zombies (called "chakz", a mangled version of the Spanish word for "jerky" because they dry out) deal with not just the decline of their flesh but with memory loss, their tissues drying out, and roving bands of "livebloods" coming to hack them to pieces for weekend sport. It's a novel twist to hide in the dark with zombies, afraid of the living coming to kill them, but Petrucha isn't just playing for kicks. This world is grim and sad and heartbreaking. Like the decline of old age, Hessius Mann deals with the betrayal of his body with a steady resolve that says less about having hope than about him having faced the worst the world can offer. What can they do, kill him again?

Full review at All Things Urban Fantasy.
Profile Image for Cindy.
2,384 reviews
October 19, 2011
Hessius Mann is a detective. He used to be a cop, back before his wife died. Before he was arrested and convicted of her murder. Then he was dead. Executed for her murder. Too bad he was innocent.

Then the scientists came up with this new treatment thing that brought the dead back to life. Well, make that half life. Hessius Mann is also a zombie.

Totally different look at the whole zombie thing, and I really enjoyed this book. It looks like there are more to come, and I will read those too.
Author 10 books23 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 16, 2011
Quit on page 133.

1. I've decided I don't like zombies as protagonists. They're gross. They're too fragile to be effective. They're supposed to be dead, so I just can't sympathize with their survival goals.

2. The premise that a "signature" pattern on a pair of clippers would leave an identifiable impression on a shear injury doesn't work.

3. "It" requires an antecedent. I had to spend way too much time figuring out what "it" was on way too many occasions. One of those cases of "Did an editor even read this?"
May 13, 2013
Zombie fiction is pretty much my last choice for something to read, but Petrucha earns the “most creative and original storyline I’ve read in a long time” award hands down. Loved this book. And it had so many twists and turns--I never saw the bad guy coming. This would be a great “crossover” book for fans of hardboiled detective novels that want to try something new, or for zombie fans looking for a dash of reality.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.1k reviews417 followers
February 16, 2012
This was a maybe book for me. I made it about 30 pages before giving it up. The beginning of the zombies was confusing for me, along with how they were set up in the story. I was meh on the main character, his forgetfulness annoyed me more than it intrigued me. In the end, this one just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Melanie.
192 reviews6 followers
September 21, 2011
I don't normally read these kinds of books but I'm glad I did. A must read for anyone!
Profile Image for Patrick Hayes.
432 reviews7 followers
February 27, 2021
This is a mystery/horror novel where the protagonist is a zombie detective. I highly recommend it for a fam of either genre or for anyone that wants to read something different.

Hessisus Mann is a zombie. Not the flesh eating reanimated dead, but one that has been reanimated. Author Petrucha quickly reveals at the beginning of the book how this came to be and it's outstanding. Mann is the book's narrator and he relates how being dead is an issue: treated horribly by the living (Livebloods), memory that's unreliable (which is a fantastic trait for a detective!), the fear of being injured so severely one can't be sewn or glued back together, or going feral--that's when one becomes the biting raving crazy--something that happens to all zombies eventually. All of this information is given in the first chapter very smoothly so that Petrucha can get to his mystery.

Mann is hired to look for a zombie who has inherited several million dollars. This dead man's siblings, however, want to find him first and permanently put him down. Mann has to find his quarry that night or it may be to late. What starts as a fairly simple and shut case of locate the zombie turns into something else that has Mann going into wildly different areas of civilization: (without spoiling them) a desert refuge, a walled off city for the living, and a location that would make Caligula envious.

Mann is a wonderful character, whose voice harkens back to classic 40's PI's, but he has the additional paranoia of wondering if today will be the day he's finally put down. His secretary is a hoot and the undead that Mann deals with are fantastic, especially one character that undergoes a shocking development. Heh-heh.

The mystery is good, with the revelation as to who is responsible for all the trouble, as well as why this individual does so, equally solid. I truly didn't know who was responsible until just before the reveal.

I've read the sequel to this and loved and hope that one day Petrucha returns to Mann's world.
66 reviews
March 28, 2018
I will be the first one to admit that I had a really big hunch that this book was going to be one of those books that I put down and NEVER pick up again! But I was wrong. This was a surprisingly good book. Yes, it probably could have ended somewhere around chapter 33 but DANG that plot twist was good! It was well written and not too overly descriptive; you know if the author had gone into too much description of the zombies then I for sure would not have made it through. If you enjoy detective stories and don't mind a little bit of gore then this book might be right up your alley and you should definitely pick it up.
Profile Image for Justin B.
105 reviews
June 4, 2022
Couple issues here and there but overall a great detective story. Some places it kind of bogged down and felt like the author was trying to drag out the suspense. Not in. a bad way though.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 68 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.