First, let me say that these zombies made me want to vomit. They not only bite to spread infection, but they spew a black liquid filled with parasites. Absolutely revolting, but great horror!
Dead of Night is not like Patient Zero. It begins more as a mystery thriller, when the body of a convicted serial killer that goes missing after his execution, and two murder victims are left behind in the morgue. Before any action begins, readers are given a thorough description of all the main characters, which includes their relationships to one another, as well as their personalities. By the time the infected are roaming Stebbins, PA, you will feel like you are part of the small town. Most of the big action scenes didn't start until halfway through the book, so the set-up requires some patience, but it's worth it.
The book is divided into four parts, with each part beginning with a different section of The Hollow Men by TS Eliot. The very first chapter is told from the mind of an infected victim, expressing his personal hell as he is trapped in a body that he is no longer in control of, and he is forced to watch the atrocities that his vessel is committing. This left me wondering if all the infected were suffering the same way. Readers are given a scientific explanation eventually.
The POV continues to switch between characters, including a reporter named Billy Trout, and a police office named Dez Fox. One of the reasons that the infection is allowed to spread is the high level of denial, even among those who have witnessed the zombies firsthand. As Trout investigates the story of Homer Gibbon's missing corpse, he uncovers a government conspiracy, but Trout refuses to believe the horror behind the truth. Dez, Trout's ex-girlfriend, responds to the request for police at the morgue, and finds her world turned upside down, when one of the victims determined to be dead attacks her. She can't convince her fellow officers that the dead are attacking the living because she doesn't want to believe it herself.
Deliberate miscommunication is another reason that the outbreak grows out of control. The state police think the local police have gone crazy shooting innocent people, and the National Guard are led to believe that EVERYONE in the town is infected, so no one is allowed to leave the quarantine zone.
The ending left me wondering if there will be a sequel, but Dead of Night is just fine as a stand alone tale of how one infected person could destroy the world in time.