Friday, August 15, 2014

Review! Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.

As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.

Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.

Title: Braineater Jones

Author: Stephen Kozeniewski

Genres: Horror, Noir

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Publication Date: September 23, 2013
After reading Braineater Jones at every possible moment - for instance, waiting for red lights to turn green, which normally made me impatient, but now made me smile when I saw the yellow - I now have a "thing" for pulp noir zombie fiction. Is that a thing? I don't know. But it's my thing now.

I've got some experience with zombie books, but it's genius how Kozeniewski turns the genre upside down with a most interesting take on how zombies function - both physically and mentally. Then he drops them into a 1930s city where prohibition is in full force, yet hooch is necessary for the undead to continue to function without feeling the urge to gnaw on a breather.

When our narrator wakes up "dead as a doornail dead" face down in a pool, he has no memory of how he got there with a gaping hole in his chest, nor of his life before becoming a deadhead. His story is narrated through journal entries, but I honestly forgot that I was reading journal entries until I got to the next chapter/journal entry. It reads so flawlessly and the pace is perfect (kudos to his editors).

Though there is quite a bit of obscure 1930s slang, it never really tripped me up. I admit I had to look up a few words, but I feel as if I have a more robust vocabulary now. Thanks for the vocab lessons, Stephen.

With the help of Alcibé, a head without a body, who is the brains of the operation, Jones provides his services as a private eye. But first he needs to figure out who took him out and why. With a number of twists, turns, and ruffians (See? I learned a new word) trying to make him double dog dead, there's never a dull moment.

"The bartender stuck his finger in my hole. Is that a violation? Wish he would've bought me dinner and flowers first." - Braineater Jones

Braineater Jones is appealing in so many ways. It's a fresh take on the zombie horror genre, a deliciously written dark comedy, and a bizarre - yet clever - take on the pulp noir genre with the gritty detective. With quality writing throughout, I give my stamp of approval (for what it's worth) to this read, and easily recommend it to anyone looking for something a little offbeat. 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into right now.

During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow.

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to review my book, Becky!