Review: “Body Farm Z,” Deborah Sheldon

Pros: What an original setting for a zombie book!
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Deborah Sheldon’s Body Farm Z takes place at a body farm in Australia–a place where scientists study how cadavers rot and decay under various circumstances. Detective Senior Sergeant Rick Evans and his partner, Detective Senior Constable Lawrence Garcia, are paying the farm a visit. Their request to do an experiment to try to solve a cold case has been approved! They’ve just helped to put the “donor’s” body into place when a strange cloud floats by. It’s oddly-shaped and -colored, and it releases little white snow-like seeds, or feathers, or something else that disappears as soon as it touches anything. But when those seeds touch their cadaver–she awakens hungry for flesh! Soon the entire body farm is overrun with dead people, dead pigs (often used because of certain similarities with humans), and more, and the freshest ones seem to retain a certain amount of cunning!

There’s a nice ensemble cast of characters, although I’d say main character duty was split between Rick and Helen, a student doing experiments at the body farm. Helen’s in love with another student, Alisha, but Alisha’s very straight and engaged to get married. Rick finds his partner insufferable and just wishes he’d stop talking now and then. Along for the ride are some of the staff and researchers, including a stoic and very helpful maintenance man, Magnus.

There’s one big, glaring question during all of this: is the rest of the world affected, too? No one really seems to be picking up their phone, although that could be a coincidence. Rick puts in a call for backup, claiming a terrorist attack, but it’ll take a good four hours for that backup to get there–if there aren’t more zombies out there to waylay them. I’ll say that there are questions that definitely go unanswered, but not in a bad way. I think the book included just as much information as it had to and no more.

There is an excerpt of a follow-on book included at the end of the e-book. It appears to pick up sometime later, on a different continent, with different characters. And despite the fact that I really enjoyed this book, there was nothing in that excerpt that appealed to me, so I’ll probably skip it. Your mileage may vary. [Note added later: apparently the other book is by a different author. That makes more sense.]

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