I hadn’t actually planned to write a review today, because I knew I would be spending Saturday  moving enough wood to fuel the campfires for the upcoming FASS camping weekend. Turned out that three determined people can move a lot of dead trees very quickly. Fortunately, I had packed a paperback just in case .
White Trash Zombie Apocalypse picks up a few months after the conclusion of Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues. Angel Crawford is still working at the parish Coroner’s Office and as far as she knows, the biggest crisis facing her is her looming GED test. It’s just too bad for Angel that while the parasite responsible for zombification confers on its hosts a number of useful abilities, a facility for studying isn’t one of them.
Even the zombies shuffling around town don’t alarm Angel much, because they’re just extras from a horror film being filmed in Tucker Point, Louisiana.
Or so Angel believes.
The closest to an arch enemy Angel has is the ambitious Dr. Charish, whose interest in zombie-related research and development is uninhibited by ethics or even basic human decency. Angel put an end to Charish’s previous research program, but Charish managed to leg it before Charish’s secret research facility blew itself to smithereens. (In a hat tip to supervillain tradition, Charish equipped her facility with a self-destruct device.) There’s been no sign of Charish in months. While it’s possible that she fled somewhere beyond the reach of American law, that’s not the way to bet when it comes to Big Bads in serial fiction.
The first clue that Charish has returned to Saint Edwards Parish is a dead body. Well, this could be a clue, but there’s nothing about the body that marks it as more than the victim of an unfortunate accident. The first undeniable clue comes when Angel encounters Philip, the man Charish forced Angel to turn into a zombie in Blues. If Philip is in town, Charish is probably around as well. Worse yet, the obvious reason why Charish would still be around is if Angel herself still has a central role to play in Charish’s research.
In the months since her last appearance, the scientist has found a new research patron, a corporation that can supply the scientist with all the funding and support she needs. Saint Edwards can provide Charish with the research subjects she needs, both zombified and uninfected. Few of the people Charish plans to use have any inkling that they’re subjects in a covert and extremely illegal research program.
Most of them think they’re extras in a movie….
This series provides one of the most positive portrayals of Louisiana I’ve read or seen. It says a lot about a state that its authors have collectively created a body of work where a series of books featuring economic desperation, date rape, drug overdoses, illegal medical research, covert ops, bloody murder, and obligate cannibalism stands out as unusually upbeat. Seriously, Louisiana, what the hell?
I was very happy to discover sympathetic serial killer Ed Quinn isn’t going to be a series regular. For some reason, a lot of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance authors like to give their protagonist a useful sociopath, someone to whom the protagonist can hand the unpleasant tasks, letting the protagonist’s hands stay clean. I think this is a spillover from mysteries; see, for example, the role Hawk played in the Spenser mysteries. It’s a device that’s always felt like a cheat to me and I am happy not to see it repeated here.
Angel may be protagonist of an ongoing series, but to the major players in the plot, she’s really a pawn who happens to occupy a strategic position on the board. She is forced to accept a closer alliance with one particular faction. While they don’t want to use her as a lab rat, it’s not at all clear how much Angel can count on her allies in a pinch; their track record in this matter is mixed at best. Furthermore, her new patron isn’t forthcoming with much in the way of details about the broader strategy.
As for the management model of the Big Bad … Charish doesn’t really grasp that loyalty is something a boss earns, not something to which they are entitled by right of position. Angel’s allies have their own (hidden) agenda, but at least they take care of their employees.
This book was less of a standalone than the previous books in the series. I had a feeling that the author was moving the characters into position for a big pay off down the road. There’s something that doesn’t happen whose absence has to be foreshadowing.
Of course, the question every reader of this series must be asking is “Does Angel manage to get her GED?” Read the book to find out.
1: My system: what I read one day is the subject of the review I write the next and post the day after that.
2: Arguably the Vice (well, co-Vice), the guy in charge of festivities, should be able to carry out a functional emulation of a social person for eight hours in row. I did read the book in a social setting, which I think counts.