(point of interest - I know and like Gary McMahon and have worked with him in the past)
Rick Nutman is an ex-soldier, now a policeman in Leeds who is one of the first to witness a zombie uprising. Attempting to get home to his wife Sally, he is beaten there by Daryl - a young man spoiled and made psychopathic by a domineering, religious Mother - who kills her. Nutman waits for his wife to reanimate, bandages up her terrible wounds and leaves. Along the way, he meets up with Stan Rohmer and his grand-daughter Tabby, who tells him about a sanctuary, out on the Ferne Islands. Unfortunately, Daryl is now following them, wanting to kill Sally all over again. Not as melodramatic as that précis would suggest, this is as gritty as we've come to expect from McMahon, filled with a weary, bleak world-view, but willing to accept that love - in one form or another - can actually make a difference. A long book (at least 105k words) this reads quickly, with a small, well characterised cast and uses locations skilfully. Apart from Daryl and his transformation, nobody does anything that doesn't seem natural to the plot and the way each character reacts to set-pieces is beautifully conveyed. What's more, McMahon is so confident of his tale and characters, some of the broader set-pieces - the pit of zombies, to whom the unlucky Claire is introduced; the kid in the old cottage - move by so quickly you're not aware of the power you've just read until you realise you're reeling from them. And that follows too with the darker elements of the plot - the gore is quick and brutal, but McMahon always goes for the human angle, to make the reader wince (where Sally gets injected, for instance) without becoming gratuitous or exploitative. Already a good writer, this has the feel of someone who is just realising how to spread their wings and taking delight in it and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. And as a nice touch, McMahon peppers the book with little in-jokes - Finch and Tennant and Tim spring to mind - and homages - "Dawn Of The Dead" - that don't detract from the books power at all. Very highly recommended.