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Dead World #1

Dead City

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After the Gulf Coast is battered by three tremendous hurricanes, a deadly virus breaks out, turning the infected into mindless, blood-thirsty zombies.

Within hours, the plague has spread throughout most of Texas and shows no signs of slowing down.

San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson finds himself in the middle of the outbreak, along with a few other survivors.

Eddie does his best to fight off the zombie horde and locate his wife and son, who he believes still are safe and haven’t been infected by the virus.

288 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published November 1, 2006

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About the author

Joe McKinney

126 books649 followers
Joe McKinney has been a patrol officer for the San Antonio Police Department, a homicide detective, a disaster mitigation specialist, a patrol commander, and a successful novelist. His books include the four part Dead World series, Quarantined and Dodging Bullets. His short fiction has been collected in The Red Empire and Other Stories and Dating in Dead World and Other Stories. For more information go to http://joemckinney.wordpress.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 426 reviews
Profile Image for Lucy.
102 reviews1,814 followers
October 17, 2011
Oh, zombie books, how I love you and how you hurt me. Some of the worst books I've read this year have been zombie books. Apparently walking dead allows you to substitute out character development, which is such a shame because I believe the best character development can come out of stressful life or death situations. You can get right down to the core of a character with simple actions at the right moments. Maybe I'm looking for too much from the genre.

Dead City is a first person POV told by a police officer named Eddie Hudson as a zombie outbreak occurs during his evening shift in San Antonio, Texas. The reasons for the outbreak are kind of loose, which isn't really a problem for me. I'm not the sort of person who needs to see the infected monkey in a cage spitting at the janitor who through some weird twist of circumstances ended up trying to clean a room he had no clearance to be in on his first day of the job. Besides, you can't get that level of explanation from a first person narrative, but I still wasn't a fan of how the outbreak supposedly came about in this book. There was a hurricane, people got sick from living condition, and evacuations of people who were carriers but not yet totally infected spread it. I didn't take a star off for this because you can't expect a better virus evolution from an average first person zombie narrative.

The first round of stars came off because I didn't quite believe Eddie would do half the things he did. After an infected cop Eddie rescued kills himself rather than let the infection progress, Eddie goes to let the cop's family know he died. When he gets there the baby is half eaten and the dead cop's wife is clearly the culprit. If he'd gone to the house to assume responsibility for the other cop's family, like evacuate the wife and child right along with his own wife and child then I would've better understood it. With his motivation being a simple matter of notification I felt like this was meant to scare the audience into thinking the exact same thing could happen to Eddie's own wife and child. Blah. I wasn't impressed.

On his way to his home where he hopes to find his family, Eddie gets distracted several times -- the outing to the dead cop's family included. The sense of urgency and even my belief that he really cared about what happened to his family as diminished by all his 'ooh gunshot! I should check that out!' It's a zombie outbreak. There's going to be a lot of gunshots. Pretty much everyone that has a gun is going to shoot it that day. What was the goal there? To make me question how bright Eddie is or to think he was a big swaggering hero? The only thing achieved was making me think his family was so-so on the list of important things.

Eddie also seems to think his wife is brain dead. He repeatedly tells himself she's a "smart girl," but he says it in a way that seems like the kind of blanket and meaningless reassurance you give yourself when it really can't get any worse. Besides, in just about every scene his wife is presented as a shrill shrewy thing. The book opens with her arguing with him on the phone about switching his shift, refusing to understand he doesn't get much of a say in it, and demanding help with the baby. It's never said whether or not April, the wife, has a job, but she seems to believe that the kid needs TWO STAY AT HOME PARENTS AT ALL TIMES. She's bothering him while he's on patrol because she can't handle the baby on her own. She comes off as ridiculous, needy, and unlikable. It's a fun start for female characters that doesn't get much better.

The next female character solidly introduced is a reporter who flags down Eddie and a cop demanding to know what they're going to do about civilians holed up in a building who need evacuation. Basically the whole city is over run with walking dead and this is the largest pool of living people Eddie's seen. He's only encountered a couple of living cops, all his ranking or lower. He's essentially on his own with one other cop who might be a little crazy. The reporter is deliberately trying to make our intrepid hero look bad. She is then distracted by the better looking and slightly psycho cop and proceeds to thrust her boobs out and flutter her eyelashes at him. We'll call her Bambi. When the inevitable zombie outbreak occurs near this cache of survivors Bambi turns into a whimpering teary mess. The cops save Bambi, but she gets eaten anyway because she sits in the car sniffling while they work to clear a path to drive it down.

As if that wasn't enough the next female to occupy pages gives up fighting, sits down, and allows herself to be eaten when the cops are out of reach to rescue her. She literally chooses to die when those big strong men folk can't hop the fence and take care of her. I wouldn't have read too much into her gender had it not been the third female character with absolutely no sense of self-reliance.

To go back to the wife, when Eddie finally meets up with her again she tries to shoot him and he has to talk her into believing he's not a zombie. He points out zombies can't speak and she cries because he's yelling at her. She shot at him and then cried when he was upset about it. Poor baby. Honestly, I kept wondering if the woman the author is married to was really okay with how every woman in this book was portrayed? We never find out where April has been or what she's been doing but apparently she's heading back to the house because she left without packing baby food and diapers. Wtf. Did she think she was going to stop at CVS to refresh her supplies?

There's very little character development. I read another review where the reviewer said it was basically the plot of a video game and I agree. One obstacle course after another. Anyway, if the book had only been a shallow story I still would've given it two or three stars, but the fact that all female characters were too stupid to live was too difficult for me to tolerate for 288 pages. One star; I don't recommend it to anyone.
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
554 reviews1,095 followers
February 8, 2015
I half expected every step to carry me over the edge of a cliff. It was like there was a big coiled snake moving slowly through my gut. I wanted to sit down and rest, to let the sick feeling inside me pass, but I knew I couldn’t. I still had miles to go before that could happen.

I would normally shun zombie fiction in much the same way I shun the new commercial vampire fiction. However, with Halloween around the corner and having enjoyed The Walking Dead I decided to give this a try.

They all moved with the same stop and start lurching motion that made me think of the drunks that sleep under the rail bridge behind the homeless shelter downtown.

And it wasn’t half bad either. While it was somewhat sentimental in spots (I’m guessing the author was a recent father when he wrote this) it certainly has a few things going for it.

But first - a blurb break:
“A merciless, fast-paced and genuinely scary read that will leave you absolutely breathless” – Brian Keene

I put a bullet in his head and left him on the floor next to the candy aisle.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the whole “absolutely breathless” bit, this is certainly a merciless and fast-paced read. In fact, it gets seriously crazy at times, and showcases more than a few “how the hell?” moments. Inevitably, this kind of thing detracts a bit from what you’d expect should be a generally dark affair, because, frankly, some things just can’t be taken seriously.

As I mounted the steps I felt something sticky beneath my boots. I shined my light on the stairs and saw a long smear of blood leading up to the landing.

But: there are some really scary scenes, and the story takes place at night, so….

In the end, this is basically a series of (very) narrow escapes strung together by first person narrative. Expect lots of blood and a bit of banter. One thing the story does really well is the sense of disbelief that accompanies an actual zombie apocalypse. It also goes to the effort to touch on one or two philosophical issues.

In closing: it’s a quick read that deals with a single night of zombie mayhem, so don’t expect anything more and you’ll be good. I enjoyed it enough to (at least) revisit my opinion on zombie stories, and I have already placed an order for the next book in the series (Apocalypse of the Dead). 3.5 stars, but rounded down to 3 (since goodreads doesn’t allow half-stars) because of one or two irks.

..she walked hunched over so that the strands of skin that had once been her face dangled over her shoes like jelly fishing lures.
Profile Image for Joe.
Author 126 books649 followers
February 10, 2008
Dead City was my first book. When I sat down to write it, I was thinking of how tenuous our hold on civilization really is. We like to think of ourselves as flexible, resilient, adaptable, and as a species I think we are. But the veneer of our civilization, well, that's another story. As a police officer on the S.A.P.D.'s Critical Incident Management Team I was trained in disaster-mitigation. I saw firsthand the destruction left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, not to mention a score of other disasters ranging from train wrecks with associated hazardous materials spills to wild fires to wide-scale flooding. My purpose in Dead City was not only to tell a fast-paced adventure story, but also to show just how fast our grip on this world can go down the drain. Hope you enjoy it!
Profile Image for Rhiannon Frater.
Author 65 books1,630 followers
August 31, 2009
I absolutely loved this book and devoured it within days. First off,
the plot is not only realistic (a man trying to get to his family), but full of non-stop action, kick ass zombie gore, and fantastic characterization. It was very hard to put this book down and get some sleep at night. I was so hooked it was hard not to keep reading to find out what came next.

Joe McKinney is a real life police officer (he is a homicide detective) and fellow Texan. He brings the flavor of Texas to the novel and gives great insight into the world of a police officer. I also liked the fact that his main character reacted like a normal person to the zombie outbreak. The emotions Eddie is overwhelmed with at times were gut-wrenching. I was really glad that despite his training and desire to survive, the character never devolves into a Rambo-type alpha male with grandiose posturing.

This zombie novel has definitely jumped to the top of my list of personal favorites in the genre.

Profile Image for Paul.
2,309 reviews20 followers
September 16, 2016
It feels like zombies are absolutely everywhere these days. We have not just one but multiple t.v. shows featuring our rotting, brain craving friends. There’s a wealth of zombie merchandise available for those who can’t get enough of the living dead. Dead City, published in 2006, is the first in a series of novels chronicling the (some would say inevitable) zombie apocalypse.

Nobody is ever going to call this book Literature with a capital L but I really enjoyed it. The main protagonist was believable as a person, rather than being some lantern jawed, barrel chested hero. He has his strengths and weaknesses and his motivation is palpable: he needs to get to his wife and infant son, at all costs.

The book is action-packed and the pace is relentless, if a little episodic. The entire story takes place within a twenty four hour period, so there’s little time for sitting around and getting all exposition-y. There is even some humour in the book, and it feels real rather than forced. People will joke in extreme situations; it’s a survival trait for your sanity and that comes across quite well here.

There were two things I appreciated, as a fan of the horror genre. The first being that the cars in this book are not all-but invulnerable, as cars in movies often seem to be. The characters in this book put their vehicles through the wringer and sustain the kind of damage real vehicles would sustain if you drove them through fences, across dead bodies, down stairs and other sorts of hostile terrain. The other thing I liked was that, unlike almost every other zombie film, book, comic or campfire tale, the people in this book knew what a zombie was. In the world this book is set in, zombie fiction exists. The characters even discuss the different types of zombie from fiction and folklore. They were still extremely surprised to see them turn up in ‘real life’, though, obviously.

This isn’t to say the book is perfect, though. The first obvious flaw is that, with a police officer as the main protagonist who is desperately trying to get to his wife and child, this book is going to suffer from comparisons to The Walking Dead. Personally, I think the book is different enough from TWD to stand on its own two feet, but the spectre of Rick Grimes will always hang over it to some extent.
My other complaint is that the characters keep backing themselves into corners completely needlessly. I realise this is sort of essential to maintain the drama, but they don’t ‘alf do some stupid stuff sometimes.

While this book may not have the world’s most original premise, it’s a Hell of a fun read. If you love your survival horror and your monsters but don’t worry too much about novelty, this book’s probably for you. It would also help if you’re not completely sick of zombies. I certainly enjoyed it enough to continue with the series.
Profile Image for Sade.
315 reviews224 followers
October 27, 2017

Actual rating 1.5 stars
cry cry cry.... I'm so uninterested in reviewing this book but here goes...
This book is exactly what a zombie book shouldn't be. All talk but no action. I think McKinney spent 90% of this book philosophising about what moral grounds zombies have. Are zombies alive? Should they be killed? Are they still people?
Look if someone starts decaying and wants to eat the shit out of you, you best put that shit down, no question asked...Even Zombieland was more useful in the event of a zombie apocalypse:


This book is just so not worth the hype, can't even be arsed to drag out the numerous faults in the book.

Profile Image for Wendy.
599 reviews17 followers
October 16, 2011
Completely enjoyed this book. I stayed up late into the night to finish it because I did not want to put it down.

I enjoyed the fact that the author even made us think about the ethical side of zombies. What if zombies were living human beings who had caught a virus and turned into cannibalistic killers? That is the question that we are left to consider after reading this book.

Over all a great read and I am really looking forward to more books by this author.
Profile Image for ItzSmashley.
51 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2023
Some good horror scenes and fleshed out main characters but I found it a little receptive after a while, don't think il try the rest of this series. A cop finds himself at the beginning of a zombie apocalypse and battles through the hordes to get back to his wife and child.
Profile Image for Kat.
477 reviews167 followers
May 6, 2012
You know how clothing addicts have those 'I've nothing to wear!!!' tantrums whilst standing in front of an overflowing wardrobe? Well the other day I had a similar moment, replacing the wardrobe with my bookshelf, stamping my feet and saying 'I've nothing to read - I want zombies!!!!'. So I picked up my trusty e-reader and Dead City caught my eye.

Dead City is what I call a proper zombie book. Why? Because its action packed, gory, scary and creepy, the main characters are tough but flawed and people die. A lot.

Eddie is a cop, and whilst trying to deal with some problems at home, receives a call to investigate a disturbance in a local neighbourhood. When arriving he finds a whole bunch of people acting strangely....but within minutes the true cause of the disturbance becomes apparent - it's zombie time!

While he struggles to survive and move through the city he meets a bunch of different people who are also trying to ride out the zomb-apocalypse and get the hell out of town - but the zombies obviously have other things on their mind, and his journey is fraught with intense, life-or-death situations.

This is an action-packed book, there's very little 'down time' or intense dialogue - most conversations take place on the fly, whilst dodging zombies but the relationship building between the characters is done well considering the circumstances. I liked that Eddie wasn't super-cop, he screwed up and got scared, wasn't a crack shot with a pistol and had to rely on hard work and guts to get himself out of trouble. There is some information on the zombie-virus itself, but it's more the catalyst to the story than a part of it.

There are some slightly sexist connotations - the vast majority of the characters are male, and have some badly-disguised condescension for women, but it didn't bother me. There's also one slightly stereotypical moment involving a group of survivors that Eddie meets along the way, but again it was quite mild.

Did Dead City satisfy my zombie craving? Totally! It was everything I was hanging out for, but now that I've got a taste for it, I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

Favourite Quote: ''I refuse to let a bunch of zombies ruin the end of the world for me.''

Read more of my reviews at The Aussie Zombie
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews277 followers
January 31, 2015
Dead Men Walking.

In 2003 Robert Kirkman gave the world the story of Rick Grimes, a sheriff’s deputy who finds the world plagued by the undead. Upon returning home from the hospital, he finds his house ransacked and his wife and son gone . While trying to adapt to life in this new world and searching for his missing wife and son, he comes across a group of survivors – this is pretty much the first six issues of the Walking Dead comic and the first season of the T. V. show by the same name.

Published November 1, 2006 by Pinnacle, Joe Mckinney gave us “Thousands are dead or dying - but the worst is only beginning. Amid the wreckage, something unimaginable is happening: a deadly virus has broken out, returning the dead to life - with an insatiable hunger for human flesh...The Nightmare begins within hours, the plague has spread all over , San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson finds his city overrun by a voracious army of the living dead. Along with a small group of survivors, Eddie must fight off the savage horde in a race to save his family”

Both are cops. Both are looking for their family, both find a small group of survivors to hang with., yet both are enjoyable no matter how similar the plot is. This book has been in the house a few years now and I needed a book for the car. I normally pick a book of short stories for those occasions of having to wait. As I sit here and watch folks plod out of grocery stores or at the mall I could not help but view them as walking flesh eating zombies.

Lets not forget that also in 2003 Brian Keene gave us “The Rising” , a different kind of Zombie yarn which does not have a cop as the protagonist, but in this story we have a construction worker. Yet the story also takes place down south, in West Virginia and the main character Jim Thurmond needs to rescue his son. Perhaps the south is a place to avoid when the Zombie Apocalypse comes to fruition and perhaps it would be best to forget about our families – just a thought.

McKinney’s book is a fast read, though kind of hokey in some places. It managed to get me through the wait time and had me laughing in portions of the book. Sadly though I don’t think I will be buying further books in the series, I like my walking dead stories but lets find some creativity .
Profile Image for Kenneth McKinley.
Author 2 books236 followers
April 17, 2018
This is my first time reading anything by Joe McKinney. Dead City has been on my TBR pile for quite some time. Three to four years, to be exact. My hesitation has stemmed from the gluttony of zombie stories that have flooded the market in the past decade. It's really too bad, because Dead City is a cut above the average walking dead tale. There's not a lot of original ideas or unique spins to the story. What it has going for it is the authentic view of a police officer. I know. I know. The Walking Dead's Rick was a police officer too. But Joe's officer, Eddie, is a three-dimensional take on a cop trying to get back to his family in a sea of zombies. It makes sense. McKinney is a cop, himself, and it shows. The language and terminology isn't your Hollywood take on what it's like to be a police officer. Its as real as it gets. I love that POV and it really transcends Dead City above your average zombie story. It's also the first of a trilogy, so I'll be seeing Eddie in the future stomp some rotted flesh.

4 Maggot-Infested Bodies out of 5

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Profile Image for Phil.
1,762 reviews132 followers
January 30, 2021
A fun zombie novel by McKinney and one that speaks to fans of the genre. DC centers on Eddie Hudson, a cop in San Antonio, who was on a routine evening on the job when Hell broke loose. Zombie stories have very predictable tropes, and this is no exception: loose band of survivors fighting the hoards of living dead trying to find an escape. McKinney does a good job with pacing here as we jump from one tight squeeze to another. Eddie is determined to get to his wife and newborn son, but the world seems to be conspiring against him. Fans of zombie horror will find nothing to path-breaking here, but then again, most zombie literature is more about the action than subtle reflections on the human condition!

McKinney knows the zombie genre, and there are many references to both zombie film and texts here, including my favorite, a guy that runs a zombie website, who know gets to 'test' in a way the theories first hand. Are these 'Romero' or 'Pittsburgh' zombies, or ones of another flavor? Are they reanimated corpses or living people suffering from some sort of viral infection? McKinney, being a cop, knows police procedure, and he paints a vivid and realistic response by the authorities to the zombie explosion. Enough gore to keep fans happy, and enough reflections on what it all means to give it a measure of gravitas. 3 gory stars!
Profile Image for Kasia.
398 reviews313 followers
April 3, 2011
It occurred to me that while I have seen zombie films I haven't read a book about them even thought my shelf has a few books on that topic all ready. Dead City was my first step into that horror genre and I can say that I will definitely be paying more attention to any books of this kind in the future.

The author was a police officer from what I understand and that proved to be handy when he crafted Eddie Hudson, a San Antonio police officer whose bad day was turning worse. In this tale the Texas Gulf Coast has been bathed in hurricanes and riots with a strange virus that seemed to spread in days and hours that turned normal people into flesh eating zombies. While on a routine patrol, Eddie gets a call about a riot breaking out and finds himself face to face with walking corpses, smeared with blood that don't seem to hear or see clearly through their milky eyes but who walk unsteady towards one goal; a beating heart that pumps warm blood thought the uninfected. After realizing that the only way to put them down is with a bullet in the head he starts to face opposition that pours from all over the city, having to kill friends, coworkers and neighbors because they no longer behave in a human or even civilized way. The story takes place during one night, taking Eddie from trying to get away from flesh eating monsters to a desperate journey to get back to his wife April and their six month old son Andrew. With the power cut out in places, cell phones and radios not working, the police killed and outnumbered the city turns into a living nightmare, crawling with danger that will either rip his apart or infect him and take away all memories and sanity.

I feel that the author has put a valiant effort into the story which is his baby, but it didn't reach deep enough into me to make me worry and care about Eddie beyond trying to see how the story would resolve. His mission was to find his wife, but the best part was reading about the tactics he had to pull out of his hat in order to survive. In the beginning he would try to rationalize why he had to pull a trigger into a zombie, who seemed cursed and not at fault here yet dangerous and white no hope of salvation but pretty quickly he turned into an arcade shooter pulling Rambo type stunts that seemed impossible for anyone without superhero powers to withstand. I also had a problem with the blurb on the cover like the other reviewer mentioned. They won't stay dead... um yeah they will, if you shoot them in the head. And the book clearly stated that the zombies had a pulse and blood, they were alive but infected to the point were their bodies were rotting walking mutants so the title and that little phrase really made no sense and kept distracting me from believing the story fully. Also the concept of time was lost, if I wasn't told that this happened over one night I would think it took days for Eddie to plow through all those zombies chasing him from a buildings, to churches, offices, school and all other places he kept crawling his way through. Eddie was full of curious questions about the state of the world and why the zombies could always find him that were never really answered, when the book ended I enjoyed the last pages but felt that a huge hole in the road swallowed up the untied ends the author crafted. Also I had no idea what the main characters looked like, there were countless descriptions of what the zombies wore but the author failed to really introduce me to Eddie and his wife visually, which would have been nice, not even what they were wearing per say but what they looked like.

Overall a fun read, the tempo never let go and I pretty much read the book in three sittings. Nothing was dragging and I liked the humor McKinney threw in when Eddie interacted with few cops he found on the way, but the book didn't leave me sitting in my armchair in awe. Good read and I am looking forward to reading McKinney in the future, I think there is a bright one out there for him!

- Kasia S.
Profile Image for Charles Dee Mitchell.
853 reviews59 followers
February 11, 2012
According to the blurb on the front of this book, "These are not your mother's zombies."

I was never aware of my mother having had any zombies, and since she passed away several years ago I will never be able to clear this question up. I will say, however, that the zombies wreaking havoc in San Antonio, Texas, in Dead City are not unlike the zombies I have seen in the approximately 100 zombie movies I have watched over the past 40 years. They have no consciousness beyond their desire to feed, their bites are infectious, their numbers spread quickly, only a bullet to the brain can stop them. McKinney solves the classic issue of "slow" vs "fast" zombies by mixing in a few fast ones with the shambling hordes. Also, these zombies are not the reanimated dead. They suffer from a hemorrhagic viral infection, like a really nasty form of ebola that rather than killing you turns you into a killing machine.

Dead City follows cop Eddie Harris through the first night of the new Zombie America. Houston and much of the Gulf Coast lies under many feet of water following a series of five hurricanes in as many weeks. This is where the first reports of evacuees attacking their rescuers surface. Officer Harris answers and early evening call to investigate what sounds like a drunken brawl in an unlikely neighborhood. From the time he arrives at the brawl until the last chapter of the book, all hell just won't stop breaking loose.

This is the first zombie novel I have read, but I am aware that it is its own genre, much of it aimed at the teen market. I am not really its demographic. Zombie movies, both good and bad, are over in about 90 minutes. Dead City is a quick read, but I probably spent five or more hours with it. Every situation was familiar from one movie or another. Whatever shock value there once was in seeing people eat one another on screen has long since worn off, and reading about people eating one another brings nothing new to the experience. McKinney creates some good minor characters, but the one policeman who provides comic relief is so obnoxious I would have fed him to the first hungry mob we encountered. Assuming I had first secured all his guns and ammunition.

Harris narrates the novel, so you know he is going to survive. He is not much given to introspection, and when he comes up with a line like, "Nothing is as protean as a woman," you realize that might not be a bad thing. It's more important that he is a good shot and he doesn't stop moving. The plot line that involves his search for his wife and child is, like so much else in the novel, beyond predictable.

This was McKinney's first novel, and I plan to read his second even though it has the uninspired title Apocalypse of the Dead. It takes place in flooded Houston, a much more promising setting that San Antonio. It was also nominated for the Stoker award, which makes he think, or hope, that McKinney is getting better.
Profile Image for Colleen.
753 reviews44 followers
December 4, 2015
Wow. 3 of the last books I've read have all been 1 star ones. And each one surprised me at that fact. Especially this one. I've read this author before and liked his books. Looks like a TON of people love this book, including my brother, buuut...

Maybe I'm reading too much GOOD zombie novels that the bad ones are more apparent? Following up Girl With All the Gifts and a chain of Maberry with this one, probably didn't help it. But ehh...I just DID not see it.

I judge zombie novels on a few criteria, let's see how it ranks:

1) Military turning on populace.
Nope. Military never even showed up which was weird. Even with the disaster in Houston, they don't have a spare San Antonio National Guard? So a big fail for the military.

2) Saddled with plucky child.
Well, he gets to the baby at the end. Second book in the row with exact same incident with a newborn baby. So far no books have done what I would do with an infant in zombie invasion: would go right into a cat carrier.

As for being weighed down with people or dead weight, not really a problem in this book. More on that later.

3) Criminals taking over.
No time for that. This book takes place in the course of an evening--time is VERY hard to judge in this book, almost impossible actually--but probably over the course of 6 hours. That short of a time frame plus EXTREMELY repetitive idiotic actions made this book feel slim, which is odd--I know McKinney can do better.

4) Terrible goverment response.
Oh My God. I harp on bad cops a lot in zombie books--because usually authority figures go evil pretty quickly but this is the first book I've read where the main character is an evil cop. And I don't think it was intended to be read that way which is the disturbing thing about it.

There's also a casual misogyny nicely woven throughout too which is distracting. Both are serious accusations but I think can be handled at same time:

Incident A of Bad Cop/Bad Man: 2 Hours or So after first call comes in about a bunch of drunks, world apparently has gone to total hell. Mostly slow zombies, a few fast ones. I kind of wondered how there were so many zombies between the first "drunks on street" to "complete meltdown" 2 hours later, when he's carrying around a cop who has been bitten (well he makes the nervous Mexican gardeners carry his cop buddy at gunpoint), the cop turns. Now maybe some people turn RIGHT away, others turn slowly, but with the hospital ward in the church, it seems more of the slow burn kind.

But ok, I'll ignore the chronology (he states at the start his shift is 3 and that school just let out--so guessing outbreak at 4ish/5ish maybe?--but who the fuck knows because there were HUNDREDS of zombies for some reason in the locked school he stumbles into). Shocked, all his friends dead, gruesomeness all around, he stumbles into his old wisecrackin' partner. They spy an obese zombie coming towards them:
"Is she wearing a thong?" Marcus said, still laughing. "God, that is the most obscene thing I have seen all night."
"Shut up, Marcus."
..."God, she's really fat."
"Forget about her, Marcus. Let's get going."
"Hold on, would you? I mean, look at that, I didn't know they made thongs that big...."
This goes on for 20+ more paragraphs. Four pages.
Now I get how people trapped on a roof surrounded by zombies like 3 years into the apocalypse can be cavalier about the zombies below. But this is not just asshattery of highest degree but also dumb, because in the four pages of laughing at her, she gets close enough to where they have to waste a bullet on her and almost messes up their getaway.

And these are also supposed to be the fine boys in blue.

Evidence B: Bad Cop/Bad Man
After he forces the gardeners and school teacher to drag his vomiting-black-grossness-moments-from-turning cop pal (horrible idea) to the firestation off the beaten path (fantastic idea). Eddie (the main character) finds a cell phone. Hooray! He calls his nag of a wife--so far all women have been scolds, nags, or evil ex-wives who hopefully are dead so no more alimony. Wife answers, they get cut off. He breaks the only working phone out of anger. Such a dick move. Maybe the dying cop in the next room would want to try and call his wife. Maybe the gardeners have loved ones they would like to call. Maybe try back in 5 minutes? Or you know, break it. When the others are understandably pissed about it, our hero "sat down in the commander's chair and simmered in rage."

But then, he and the school teacher decide to flee the firestation to get to his wife & baby, he hears gunshots, goes off to investigate (school teacher bounces which was best move anyone makes in the book), and through a series of mishaps where he discovers wife & baby booked it, finds his old partner. They decide to check out police HQ (also smart, though every cop inside a fool I guess because somehow they all are 100% zombies). They destroy a huge amount of cars it seems in the process of book. If they're not running through crowds of zombies while giggling, they are off to find another car to rinse/repeat.

Because of the cavalier and snotty attitude, it's hard to find much sympathy with the heroes. They finally find some evidence of civilization in the presence of a news reporter, a doctor from the hospital and like 70 people. Unfortunately, these people also have a bunch of bitten folks not tied down, even though they all know what happens. They escape with the leggy blonde reporter whom his friend has eyes on. When they go to push the car out of the way that's blocking the road, she somehow gets ripped to shreads inside the car by a crowd of ninja zombies.

Here's how this character's death is handled, her severed leg still in the backseat. "I'll pull over so we can get rid of it, I said."
"No," he said, and sat back down. "Don't worry about it. We're not going to have this car very much longer. Downtown's only two exits away."
"Okay," I said. "If you're sure."
"I'm sure," he said. "A pity, though. She really did have great legs."

There are other shitty moments. When he meets an angry black man and reminisces how before the zombie apocalypse he would put someone in the hospital for a look like that. (Really?) Then it turns out angry guy's mother just got killed by a zombie cop.

Just a big old eh. So besides the main characters being people I actively disliked, fairly routine plot of "trying to fight out of city", soooo many zombies--swarms always upon him, no matter where, abandoned warehouse, wooded areas?--even the characters say it doesn't make sense.

Hopefully the other books are better. I might try one more.
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 2 books20 followers
November 21, 2008
Dead City by Joe McKinney is an action packed zombie novel and a strong first novel. Dead City has all the action you could want out of a zombie book and the main character is pretty well fleshed out. If Dead City has any true weakness, it's the lack of depth in the setting and the story may be a little bit too straight forward.

The story follows Eddie, a San Antonio cop, as tries to survive the zombie hordes and tries to get home to his Wife and child. Along the way he has to overcome some hard decisions and at times trust people who he normally wouldn't.

Dead City scores big points for action and gore content. The action scenes are exciting; fast paced, and keeps the pages turning. Gore is frequent and vivid. I have heard others say that this would make for a great movie, I have to agree. With the amount of action, the compelling action, and the way each scene cuts away it would make for a great film. Hopefully, some day, we'll see a movie happen.

My only reservations about Dead City are that the setting is little blurry, characters beyond the Eddie are weak and it doesn't make you think. There is enough there that nothing seems out of context, but it also left me asking a lot of questions. Eddie is truly a great character, but beyond him, the rest are fairly uninteresting but serve a purpose. This is no philosophical zombie novel, that's for sure. It's not really required for a zombie novel to be a great read, but it is nice when you do read one that gets the brain ticking. These are all pretty minor issues and in fact may not bother many readers at all.

In the end Dead City is well worth a read for it's sheer master of action and gore in a zombie novel. I cannot think of a reason why a fan of zombie fiction would be disappointed with this book.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews259 followers
October 9, 2011
2.5 Stars

This book is absolutely everything that you would expect it to be. Book one of a post apocalyptic zombie thriller that is standard fare for the genre. It is a short read, too short really. Unfortunately, it brings nothing new to the table.

I like Joe Mckinney's writing, he pens a good action thriller. Eddie is a competent main protagonist. This book is missing the key elements that could have made it great. We get little world building, a scarce amount of backstory on Eddie, and only one other side character worth talking about. The zombies are the tried and true but offer nothing new. There are no real explanations, scientific or otherwise to give any meaning behind the end of days.

This book is fast paced and filled with action, I just wished that McKinney would have given us more to care about. I am drawn to this genre, so I found this book to be worth my time, and will probably read the other books in this series at a later time.
Profile Image for Dustin.
19 reviews
October 31, 2011
It is a non-stop action style of read. The issue I had with it was just that...there is nothing to develop the characters at all. There are also a lot of extremely irrational, illogical decisions made by the main character in his plight across the city. He never seems to be tired even though he's been running, shooting, jumping off of rooftops and so forth. A decent read as an action novel, but nothing more. It does play out much like a First person shooter style of video game. Many chapters, in this regard, are really the same. The actions of Marcus, another police officer in the story, are simply ludicrous, and even though Marcus seems to get more attention in terms of describing his personality and background than anyone else, he is the poster child for what not to do in any bad situation. If you want to read an action style of novel where the main character just goes around shooting hundreds of zombies over and over again, then by all means, check out this novel.
Profile Image for Craig.
5,143 reviews122 followers
March 8, 2020
This was fun. It's the story of a night of mindless zombie mayhem, and reads like the play-by-play transcript of one of those first-person video games where the goal is to survive by walking about and shooting zombies. There are some interesting twists along the way, and the characters are much more engaging than those in many zombie adventures I've encountered. I'm going to read the sequel now.
1 review1 follower
May 24, 2011

I chose to read this book for two simple reasons: I adore the zombie/apocalypse genre and I had never really read a zombie novel before. I did some research over a few books I could possibly choose from, and this one seemed to catch my eye. I wanted a book that would give me zombies, but I wanted a more traditional story about them; not a story about super-powered zombies, zombie teenagers, or anything like that. I prefer the Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead-esque genre of zombies, and this book seemed to deliver just that.

The novel starts out with a run-of-the-mill cop named Eddie Hudson. Having a spat with his wife over the phone, he gets a call from headquarters and he and another officer speed off towards what was reported to them as a riot. Unfortunately, he finds himself in deep trouble when the "rioters" he faces can take multiple gunshots without even flinching. The rest of the book follows Eddie as he races from various locations around San Antonio in an attempt to find his wife and 6-month old son who seemed to have gone missing, all the while fighting off the undead hoard with the other survivors.

One reason that this book is great is because Mr. Mckinney (the author) knows his stuff when it comes to policing, as he has actually worked as a policeman himself. So the main character, Eddie, is a truly believable representation of an officer of the law, and all of the decisions he makes seem to be what a cop would do in the situation he is thrust in. The novel itself is a quick read and the action is paced fairly well, transitioning from situation to situation accordingly. There are some tear-jerking moments and some humor peppered throughout the book at times, giving it a sense of variety in character interactions and situations.

The only things I truly found wrong with this book was the fact that

It seemed as though some characters weren't fleshed out enough, and anyone Eddie seemed to meet died about 20 pages into the book after meeting him each and every time (except for a few characters and scenes). I guess that's normal since they are in a zombie apocalypse, but characters such as the "hot" reporter lady didn't seem important enough to really need to be included in my opinion. It also felt as though the ending was really rushed, especially since it seemed as though Eddie ironically met his wife and son again to only have everything in the world go back to normal and the zombie infection eradicated within the chapter right afterwards. I was also a bit miffed when my favorite character, Marcus, ended up dying out of the blue.

Other than that, I honestly enjoyed this book, and I've even thought about picking up the other few novels in this series. If you're a fan of the zombie genre, this book is recommended, especially if you are looking to find a fairly believable and simple portrayal of the zombie apocalypse. Be warned though; there are tons of vulgar language used between characters, a large amount of blood and gore described, and some questionable jokes exchanged. Even so, it did not turn me off from this book and it shouldn't turn you off either. I highly enjoyed "Dead City" by Joe Mckinney and recommend it to the zombie fans at heart, or anyone looking for a fantastic horror story.
Profile Image for Michelle Greathouse.
306 reviews37 followers
March 4, 2011
Dead City is the first book in the Dead City series by Joe McKinney and a novel of Fiction from Pinnacle.

Book Blurb:

Texas? Toast.

Battered by five cataclysmic hurricanes in three weeks, the Texas Gulf Coast and half of the Lone Star State is reeling from the worst devastation in history. Thousands are dead or dying - but the worst is only beginning. Amid the wreckage, something unimaginable is happening: a deadly virus has broken out, returning the dead to life - with an insatiable hunger for human flesh...

The Nightmare Begins

Within hours, the plague has spread all over Texas. San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson finds his city overrun by a voracious army of the living dead. Along with a small group of survivors, Eddie must fight off the savage horde in a race to save his family...

Hell On Earth

There's no place to run. No place to hide. The Zombie horde is growing as the virus runs rampant. Eddie knows he has to find a way to destroy these walking horrors...but he doesn't know the price he will have to pay.

My thoughts:

The day began as any other for officer Eddie Hudson - patrolling the streets of San Antonio, Texas - protect and serve.

Then news starts coming in from other states - talking about attacks. Hundreds of people attacking each other for no apparent reason.

Eddie receives a call from dispatch to break up a fight and he and a fellow officer head out. What they find when they arrive is shocking to say the least.

A group of people have gathered and no matter what Eddie says, they will not disperse. It is like they can’t comprehend what he is saying to them. And then they attack.

Eddie is hesitant to use deadly force - but to save himself and his fellow officer he must. But his shots are brushed off - they make no difference at all. And now the crowd is growing - what was a group of ten is now thirty - and more are coming.

All Eddie can think about is his wife and young son and getting them to safety. But getting to them is going to be the hardest thing he’s ever done.

Dead City is a fabulous read - but intense. From the moment Eddie confronts his first zombie it is non stop action.

And Dead City is gory. This is no sugar coated zombie book - these critters are nasty. I loved it!

I give Dead City 4 out of 5 stars and can’t wait to read more.

Profile Image for Leslee.
340 reviews25 followers
August 9, 2012
I picked this one up because the third book in the series managed to win a 2011 Bram Stoker award. I realize that this was McKinney's first ever novel so I cut him some slack but this novel has that distinct and unsubtle scent of Eau de Video Game which was slightly annoying and exhausting to read at times so I found myself skimming a lot of pages. You spend a lot of the first half of the book following the cop protagonist and narrator running around finding ammo for his gun or 'leveling up' by finding better guns or more ammo and somehow he also manages to always find vehicles with keys in them so that he can drive away after he's crashed the last one.

The dialog also felt a little tired, especially the banter with his 'former partner', honestly I could have been playing a Resident Evil game instead of reading this book.

A lot of retreading well worn ground here, nothing new to the genre but then this did come out in 2005, before the real post-apocalyptic zombie novel explosion began so I'm sure for the time it came out it might have been ground breaking.

I'll continue on with the next two because honestly now I'm curious as to whether or not the series improves drastically, from reading this one I'm a bit surprised that the third won a Stoker. I'll chalk it up to first-time-author blues and see how it goes as the series progresses.
Profile Image for David Church.
110 reviews39 followers
August 18, 2014
If this was one of the first zombie books I had ever read, I probably would have loved it. But unfortunately this is my umpteenth zombie book, and while really well written it is nothing ground breaking. I actually felt like it was a video game, it had a lot repetitiveness to the book. Wash, Spin, Rinse, Repeat. Drive car run over zombies get out run some more get in cars run over more zombies repeat. The book felt more interesting in the beginning before the first zombie attack. I enjoyed McKinney’s character development in those brief moments. And the book did have some gruesome scenes, I just wish it had something different than other zombie books. I will read the rest of the series (I hear they get better). Not a bad book but not a great book.
Profile Image for Dan.
10 reviews
October 31, 2009
Likely the worst book I have read in 10 years. I am ashamed to admit I read the whole thing. I guess I was expecting it to tell a story somewhere in the 288 pages. But it never happened.

This was not a book, this was a video game minus the graphics. Some character development would have been nice, but all we got was a cop meeting up with two other cops who then traded one-liners until someone ended up dead.

I will scratch this author of any future reading lists.
Profile Image for Arthur.
351 reviews15 followers
September 29, 2021
A seven and a half hour unabridged audiobook. This book was published around the same time that the well known World War Z was. First time I've read this author. It's also the first book of a zombie series- so this will let me know whether to continue it.

This was an odd one for me, on balance I found the book to be merely okay. Some parts were loathsome yet others intriguing. Although this book was a miss for me, I found the author promising enough to attempt the next one in the series.
Profile Image for William M..
577 reviews59 followers
June 29, 2011

"Dead City", the debut horror novel by Joe McKinney, is a worthy read, equally impressive as a first novel as it is an intense zombie book. The first few chapters have a nice buildup as the reader experiences the outbreak through the eyes of a San Antonio police officer. The action explodes very early on and never really stops, and while I did enjoy the intense sequences, I think the violence would have been more effective if it was balanced with more suspenseful and quiet moments. Like the ups and downs of a rollercoaster, you need to go up before you can race down and experience the full thrill of the ride.

Set over the course of one long day, the protagonist races around the city looking for his wife and newborn son. The outbreak had a fairly basic premise and was extremely light on story, but it was certainly done well. The zombies also felt too familiar in their actions, and it would have been nice to see something new added to their mythology. Although McKinney does a better job in his other books of balancing the elements of character, story, and atmosphere, I still really enjoyed reading this and would recommend it without hesitation.
Profile Image for Chris.
373 reviews69 followers
August 29, 2013
Dead City is the first in a series of zombie horror novels by Joe McKinney. Officer Eddie Hudson, a San Antonio police officer, is working the nightshift, when suddenly violence erupts...corpses walk the streets hungry for flesh! As Eddie tries to make his way home to his wife and newborn son, he soon realizes the entire city is crumbling around him, wave after wave of ravenous zombies make that effort a deadly and near impossible task. Gritty realism coupled with true emotion makes this horror novel work in unexpected ways, and of course, the numerous expected tropes of zombie horror. But where McKinney's novel set itself apart is the unique plot (a series of deadly hurricanes being a catalyst of sorts that started the necrosis virus) and the fact that the author was also a San Antonio police officer, makes the main character resonate much more truthfully. In the end, he is just a husband and father who wants to find his family in the midst of total chaos. Parallels to the popular TV show are inevitable, albeit pale ones, but the novels first printing was 2006. Recommended for zombie horror fans!
Profile Image for Alondra Miller.
993 reviews55 followers
October 13, 2014
4 Stars

I am a new fan.

I love when zombie novels start off with a "typical day at the office"... Our main character Eddie Hudson, just wants to get home to his wife and child, after realizing just how wrong things are getting. It is a long day and a circuitous route, just to get to the other side of the city. He loses friends, co-workers and those he was sworn to protect. Through it all, he is able to keep things in perspective and get to his ultimate goal....but, what will he find when he gets there??

Nothing like a good zombie book to put things in perspective.... kinda. ;)

Profile Image for Tim.
9 reviews
January 2, 2008
Great book if your looking for non stop action survival book. i was late to so many events the month i was reading this book because i just couldn't put it down, the fact that i even tried to read and drive home is a testament to how much action is in the book.
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