Cut River is a dead town, isolated from mainstream Michigan it has been hit by a bad storm, taking out trees, cell towers, and its electricity, and eight people will have the unfortunate bad luck to be caught up in in Cut River's death throws, as the populace has been turned into kill-crazy, impossible to kill, cannibalistic madmen.
They will be Lou Frawley, an overweight plumbing salesman; Lisa Tabano, a goth metal musician, and junkie, coming home to see her parents; fat Nancy Eklind, ballbuster and complainer; Ben Eklind, her weak husband, and perpetual loser; Sam, Nancy's brother, and fresh out of prison; Johnny Davis, a dysfunctional Vietnam vet who's looking for a fight; and Joe and Ruby Sue, a pair of real hardcase bikers, who seem to be operating on a mission of their own.
And as bad as things are, they can always get worse, and they do. The dead are starting to organize, they now banding together with military precision, and they are now prowling Cut River on their own search and destroy missions.
At first everybody is operating on their own, but they gradually start running into each other, all while trying to escape the rampaging townspeople. Ben and Nancy are saved at the last moment by the manmountain Joe and Ruby Sue, who seem to be loaded with enough weapons to fight a war, while Johnny and Lisa will band together, and in one form or another everybody will end up going at the St. Thomas Catholic Church. But God won't save them, as there is a bunch of fanatically religious, and desperate, people in the church's basement who think that this is all Satan's work. They will only manage to come out of hiding long enough to be caught in the flood of crazies that come barreling into the church looking for trouble.
During some down time, Johnny tells the tale of a time back when he was part of America's Phoenix program, and he and his team were sent into the Mekong Delta "Rung Sat" region when he was a SEAL on a reconnaissance mission. It was here that they will came across a village infected with something called "The Laughing Man", and that the villagers were all as crazy as Cut River's residents.
Now, Tim Curran will never be called the most original of action authors, after all, original would have been something that was changing people into rampaging bananas, only to have our intrepid heroes trying to escape Cut River while slipping and sliding on viscous banana peels. But that ain't this novel, what this is, is a no-holds barred cat-and-mouse chase book as madmen of all stripes are trying to hunt down any, and all, survivors of the initial contamination. And at this, Curran excels.
Now, this ain't a perfect novel, as at times Curran seems more in love with his action than he is with the logical consistency that should be holding this bit of textual madness together. Examples are that sometimes when the "rabids" are shot, they die, and at other times the rabids will receive traumatic head wounds, but they will still get up run amok. Or, during one scene a rabid toddler can't turn a doorknob, while later a zombified fetus crawls up a wall, and goes on the attack.
Still, for those of us that looked forward to a novel of action, gore, and destruction, this novel won't be a disappointment. This is a novel that has a shoot-out at supermarket, two separate shoot-outs at the town's police station, a shoot-out at a church, has madmen, naked zombies, a zombie fetus clawing its way out of their womb, cannibalism, zombie dogs, chases through the sewers, death by hanging, eating, knives, guns, fire, and cars.
And to top it all off, I stayed up way too late, and I missed a lot of sleep to finish this story, as especially noteworthy was the epic final battle, which seemed to be made for the cinema. And yes, for once Severed Press actually gives one of their book cover artists credit. "Toxic Shadows" has a pretty good cover by Tim Pryor.
For this site I have reviewed these other Tim Curran books:
Cannibal Corpse, M/C.
The Hive #1: Hive (The Hive Series). The Elder Signs Press edition.
The Hive #2: The Spawning: Book Two of The Hive Series.