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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gluttony of Zombies
This is a fast paced, gory adventure that is very hard to put down. The greater part of the United States has been quarantined after a plague has turned most of the population into zombies and driven the survivors to an overcrowded Safe States area in the East. Very few people are left alive in the Evacuated States, one of them being Henry Marco, the Return Man, who,...
Published on 4 Feb 2012 by Penny Waugh

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Story of a Charmed Man
What I think makes a good zombie book is realism. This may sound like an oxymoron as by definition zombies are not real, but for the book to work you have to feel that they are. V M Zito's `The Return Man' is a book that creates a brilliantly realised world, but fails to make the action contained within feel real. Henry Marco is a trapped outside the American safe...
Published on 17 April 2012 by Sam Tyler


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gluttony of Zombies, 4 Feb 2012
By 
Penny Waugh "A reader" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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This is a fast paced, gory adventure that is very hard to put down. The greater part of the United States has been quarantined after a plague has turned most of the population into zombies and driven the survivors to an overcrowded Safe States area in the East. Very few people are left alive in the Evacuated States, one of them being Henry Marco, the Return Man, who, while searching for the wife he has lost, hunts down relatives of living people, at their request, and 'Returns' them to proper death. Then the government makes him an offer he can't refuse.
The zombies in this story are both horrific and pathetic, and the descriptions of their meat eating habits can be stomach-churning, but what sets this book aside from a simple gore fest is the relationship between Marco and Wu, the man who is seeking the same thing as Marco though from a different angle. Their wariness and hostility, their increasing reliance on each other, lead to a moving ending.
Their mission is to track down a scientist, believed to be dead or a zombie, in a prison in California and return with his secrets. The prison is a truly ghastly place, only too easy to imagine while you are reading. There are few minor characters; Marco's remembered wife, the sought-after scientist who was a friend of his until a tragedy split them, a very dodgy government official, a brutal quad bike gang in the desert living on their wits. It all makes for compulsive reading.
There is much here that will return to me, and I shan't easily forget the train episode.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most entertaining, 9 Mar 2012
By 
M. D. Harris (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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While the premise of The Return Man is not exactly new - basically a fetch quest in a zombie filled United States - it is most certainly entertaining.

The plot is straight forward enough, a fast spreading zombie virus results in massive casualties and the western USA being quarantined off. Survivors are now all crammed into the safe eastern states. Our hero has stayed behind to locate his missing wife, but also accepts jobs from people in the safe states to 'return' people to the grave, ending their days as living dead and giving closure to surviving families. This sideline leads to a contract to locate a missing colleague who may have discovered a treatment for the virus in the days leading up to the outbreak four years earlier, finding him will not be easy...

So far so 'I am Legend' (and with this I'm referring to the book - which is excellent, not the movie - which was not). It's fair to say this book has certainly been influenced by the likes of the Richard Matheson iconic short story, but The Return Man finds it's own path to follow and does a fantastic job of pulling you in.

The book wastes no time getting into it's stride and the author V. Zito does an good job of making the zombie filled evacuated states a believable place, providing the reader with enough information to make things plausible without bogging the story down in pointless detail. The characters are also pleasingly rounded humans (those that aren't zombies of course) who make rational decisions, and feel like real people rather than ciphers who exist merely to propel the plot along. There's also a satisfying balance of character moments, action, horror and humour.

It would be east to dismiss The Return Man as just another end of the world/zombie book, but by the time I reached the end I felt genuinely disappointed the journey was over - if Zito writes another Return Man book I definitely be getting it. So, not exactly the most original book I've ever read, but definitely one of the most entertaining. An easy five stars from me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tons of action amongst the un-dead., 8 Feb 2012
By 
Zola fan "Nana" (Hants, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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This is one of the best zombie books I've read and I could hardly bear to put it down.
The idea of running a business tracking down zombies and `delivering' them for their grieving loved ones is a really good one.
The USA is split between the evacuated states on the west and the safe states in the east where 50 million refugees have fled to safety from the un-dead. The main character, Henry Marco, is a man on a personal mission who lives a solitary life in the evacuated zone. Right from the start of the book we get a taste of what life is like for Marco, checking all the traps, reinforcing barricades around his house - whew, I was with him before the action really got going.

There are a couple of plots running throughout and the action and suspense doesn't rely just on the zombie action either; the non-viral villains in this book seem to cause more trouble than the walking dead.

However, I do have one criticism. The gory descriptions throughout of zombie viscera and the various ripping, biting and devouring of flesh by the un-dead were a little much by the time I got near the end. Although Mr Zito's vocabulary was up to it, my stomach had had enough.
Nevertheless, this is a top rate, superior zombie book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I only do dead to dead-er", 25 Jan 2012
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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A zombie outbreak. America divided along the Mississippi. The West "The Evacuated States" - The East "The Safe States". Our protagonist - Dr. Henry Marco - offers his services to 'return' the dead; to grant peace of mind to the living that their loved ones aren't endlessly roaming the wilds, all the while looking for the same peace by finding his wife, corpse or not.

When his handler Ben is forcefully held by the new fiercely Republican government, Henry has no choice but to track down a long-lost colleague who may hold the cure to this devastating infection, but things are not as simple as they seem, what with multiple parties interested in the commercial value of a cure and hundreds of zombie-infested-miles between Henry and his target. Will Henry ever find Roger Ballard?

V.M. Zito writes with great flair, his plot is intelligent and goes beyond dystopia, involving conspiracy and complex biology in this novel. It's well written, the descriptions of the evacuated states will resonate with Zombie fans. Heck, the book even shamelessly says; "Fans of the hit TV show The Walking Dead, the bestselling zombie classic World War Z and the gaming phenomenon Dead Island will love this dystopian thriller." so they definitely know their target market. And The Return Man does not disappoint, there are struggles for resources, difficulties in travel and inexorably, hordes of zombies (corpses, the dead - for some reason, Zito steers suspiciously clear of the 'Z' word).

If you have watched, read or played the above, you know what to expect. Otherwise this is a dystopian zombie novel with a bleak ending that is well worth a read. As an aside; does anyone else think the cover could be a screen shot out of The Book of Eli?? Nonetheless, I definitely recommend this book for Zombie & dystopia fans!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant, 11 Jun 2012
By 
Mr. Mj Flatt "Martyn" (Provinces) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
Things to love :-

-The world moves on, the zombies don't win and you get to see how humanity copes when the dead just won't die.
-The hero isn't some great survivor whose only real relationship is with his large selection of guns, he survived the initial outbreak by luck and has been learning.
-No multipage downloads from Wikipedia describing guns, almost miracle in the zombie genre.

All in all, one of those rare books zombie books where you'd rather be with the survivors, normally becoming a zombie is the better option when confronted with the hero, not this time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any lover of the zombie genre, 8 Mar 2012
By 
RM Brown "rachmarie1611" (Northampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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An outbreak has turned America in to a wasteland filled with walking corpses. One man, Henry Marco makes a living being hired by grieving relatives to track down missing loved ones.

As a big fan of all things zombie, I was looking forward to reading this book but was wary and expecting to be disappointed. I wasn't. This book is a definite must-read for any fans of the zombie genre or of dystopian thrillers. It's a non-stop thriller, filled with action, blood and gore. Everything you could possibly want from this type of book. It's well written and the characters are nicely rounded.

A great debut novel. I'm really looking forward to more from V.M. Zito
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Graphic and gripping tale, 14 Feb 2012
By 
Maggie (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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I would not have chosen a "zombie" story particularly but I am drawn to dystopian novels, as this one was billed. It is very graphic and stomach-turning in its descriptions, but not at the expense of good writing. It is believable in that biological weapons of the sort described are not beyond the imagination and the science did make some kind of sense. Once I saw the word prions I knew we were in CJD/"mad cow disease" territory and I think the author was clever to use this rather than some old bacteria or virus! Although the action was totally gripping and the hero admirable and sympathetic, what struck me most of all was the pathos in all these ordinary and not-so-ordinary people having been struck down by the disease and then left to endure a half-life as a zombie: the guys having a drink in a bar, the station master in the shreds of his uniform, the toddler still strapped in his car seat, condemned for ever to reach out for food. For me it was this link to humanity that made the book so powerful. I would certainly read this author again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ROLLER COASTER RIDE, 30 Jan 2012
By 
Enquirer (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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THIS IS EXTREMELY GOOD FOR A FIRST NOVEL. I read The Return Man in 3 sittings over 24 hours - much of the time with my mouth hanging open. This is really able action writing. The plot is partly genuinely unique, and partially a compound of Resident Evil 3 Resident Evil 1-4 [DVD] [2011]and The original Omega ManThe Omega Man [DVD] [1971]. Does that detract - not a bit, but it did make some of it quite predictable to me.

The story hinges around the 'life' of Marco, The Return Man. His business is to 'return' zombies in the West of the US on behalf of paying relatives in the barricaded Eastern States. The West is a wasteland. The East is a 'business-as-usual' police state. Returning involves putting a bullet through a specific zombie's brain - RIP - no more flesh eating etc. He has turned his old Arizona home into a private fort (a la Omega Man) and sallies out on each mission. At the back of his mind is the constant desire to Return his wife, who he lost 4 years before when the epidemic hit the West in what they now call the Resurrection.

Yes, Marco will have a side kick - well-drawn, interestic, vital - but I wont say who. Yes there is more to it all than just his daily grind. Read on - IF you are not sqeamish and have a strong constitution. This is easily the most grisly book I have actualy ever chosen to read. It is unusual in that, while I plan to never re-read it, I would still recommend it. I found it a bit to much for me. I genuinely hope there is no attempt at a faithful filming of the story. It would be just too horrible - but exciting too!

This is technically Zombie genre fiction, but actually moves into Sci Fi, doomsday and adventure territory. The descrition and characterisation are both unusually good, as is the pace - heart pounding and unrelenting. I hope Zito doesnt just settle for a sequel. He has more talent than that - a hit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The new zombie on the block, 29 Jan 2012
By 
PJ Rankine (Wallington, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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Falling somewhere between a horror story and science fiction this book is all zombie. The USA has been split in half by a terrible event called the 'Resurrection' where the dead have come back to life to devour the living and spread their infection. The country has been torn in two with the survivors living in the Eastern states and the West left to the ravening hordes. Henry Marco however stayed behind to find his wife and now makes a living returning loved one to their final death, for a fee of course. The opening chapter features Henry completing his latest contract and sets the scene perfectly, illustrating how dangerous his job and the environment are.
Returning to his fortified home Henry is 'persuaded' by the new version of Homeland Security to undertake a dangerous mission to locate a former friend and return him to death. The only problem is he is in a prison in California filled with thousands of reanimated dead.
This is an exciting story featuring a lot of the background of its hero and the Resurrection itself. I also liked that fact that this holocaust is restricted to the USA only and whilst the rest of the world is terrified it hasn't got to them yet.
Zombie fans won't be disappointed but I got a little fed up with descriptions of rotting animated corpses and their oozing black bodily fluids and trailing intestines.
Overall great story telling but a little too much of the yucky stuff for me so only four stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back in the ZSA -The Zombie States of America, 25 Jan 2012
By 
Ian Williams "ianw" (Sunderland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Return Man (Paperback)
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Considering that most of the book consists of two people crossing an America where all but the east is populated by zombies, this is a quite enjoyable. Our hero, a psychologically damaged zombie killer who is trapped in the zombie half of the USA, goes on a mission for the government which isn't quite what he thinks it is, but then neither is his Chinese-American soldier companion who has his own secret agenda.

This is all well-told and consistently involving. It's a strong story and certainly a very good zombie novel. Enough loose ends are left for a sequel which I'll be looking forward to reading.
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The Return Man
The Return Man by V. M. Zito (Paperback - 8 Nov 2012)
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