Stab me with money
The cliche stands: Don’t judge a book by its cover. And by extension, don’t judge a book by its title. And if you’re not into going headfirst into the great pit of serial novels out there, fret not. Zombody to Love: Journal of the Semi-Dead, Book 1 functions as a standalone horror comedy novel you’re going to want to listen to. To be completely honest, I still want to know where this story is going to go, but it’s not a requirement like a prix fixe novel chain fitted around your ankle. You won’t be forced to order from column B if you don’t want to. The first one tells the fantastic story of a contract enforcer for a crime boss who becomes a whole new man. Think Dead Like Me dry comedy with a Breaking Bad style arc that distinctly goes the other way.
The worst I can say about this audio-book that found its way to my ears is that I don’t like the cover, and I don’t like the title. Getting that out of the way. Sometimes we have to admit that Oingo Boingo’s 1981 “Only a Lad,” with it’s forgettable cover art and title were the red door we painted black. Four years later, “Dead Man’s Party” became an album that secured a place in music legend. Looking back, it became easier to see the genius behind their debut album. The point? Don’t wait four years, or however long it’s going to take Richard Crossley to write his “Dead Man’s Party” to understand the genius of what he’s already given us.
It would be unfair not to recognize the talent behind the voice from the beginning. Paul Burt reads Richard Crossley’s noir crime styled horror novel with the versatility of a seasoned voice over actor. He identifies characters for the “reader” with subtle speech changes and extreme makeovers that make you think you’re listening to an old time radio play. The sound is black and white, smokey, and stark with the contrast. It’s not an authentic rendition of noir mysteries, but rather a masterful homage reminiscent of the sounds from Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) where Steve Martin unapologetically brings the style over-the-top to remind you we’re having fun. Zombody to Love is horror comedy from a time that never existed. Your memories will play tricks. Suddenly, you’re familiar with the era and scenario, and you’re rooting for a bad guy to fall in love.
“The world is changed. If there remains a history for others let it record that in the end I lived and loved. I saw, and I believed.” —Tapper
The above quote comes from the protagonist. These are the first words you’ll hear from Tapper. It spells out an empathy in the character that’s in contrast to his crude vernacular when we first meet him. He’s a sociopath misogynist with tenable loyalty to those who have his back. Because of Tapper’s lack of maturity this audio book is suggested for mature readers. The protagonist tells the story with a lack of decorum that’s anything but charming, but somehow he becomes that one friend who gets a pass at parties when he tells a dirty joke at the church picnic. He’s blunt, offensive, and brutal, but he’s honest to the core. That’s why it’s believable that Tapper didn’t write this himself. He beat some poor schlub into submission to make him type his words from dictation.
Zombody to Love takes us through Tapper’s typical day in Pahrump, Nevada, home of the late late night hero, Art Bell. When circumstances bring horror to his typically horrifying day, the story of his transition begins. Crossley skillfully evolves Tapper’s demeanor while Burt convincingly unfolds the butterfly Tapper is slowly becoming. Or maybe it’s a death’s-head hawkmoth he’s becoming. The transition is clear.
Crossley paints a gruesome picture without relying too heavily on red dye number 5. He tells a classic tale for modern readers who have an appreciation for old school situations. When Jack Napier said, “Murder is an art,” he may have been referring to Richard Crossley’s studies in accidental and premeditated death. His disturbingly detailed descriptions of the comedic ways some of his characters cross the plane into oblivion inspire literal LOLs and guffaws. And as zombie tales go, I’ve read too many to count. However, Zombody to Love is a new idea with its own lore on zombie “life” and reason. Well worth your time.
Stab me with money