Dead Mann Running

Stefan Petrucha. Roc, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-46474-3

Petrucha builds on his first highly creative zombie detective novel, 2011’s Dead Mann Walking, in this top-notch sequel, which has enough action, deduction, and humor to be a must-read for urban fantasy fans. In the near future, a huge chemical manufacturing concern, ChemBet, has developed a “self-perpetuating, neo-magical Radical Invigoration Procedure, RIP for short.” The process has created an underclass of zombies, subject to registration with the government and testing to identify those who will turn violent. Narrator Hessian Mann, an ex-cop turned PI, was executed for his supposed crimes and then subjected to RIP after DNA evidence exonerated him. Mann is gratified to hear that the inventor of RIP has apparently taken his own life eight years after sharing his discoveries with the world. The news coincides with the arrival in Mann’s office of an unusual client, even for him: a disembodied arm carrying a suitcase containing two vials of a mysterious blue liquid. Petrucha cleverly constructs an investigation with far-reaching implications, making the most of his fully realized setting. Agent: Joseph Veltre, the Veltre Company. (Sept.)