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Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb

Originally published in March 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

I borrowed this book from the library because I liked the title, which put me in mind of a wacky 60's sci-fi story, or rather a parody of one (I was actually looking for another of McCrumb’s books). The title comes from the fact that all of the characters that matter are in one way or another connected with science fiction, either as authors, failed authors, or fans, and some of them might be described as metaphorical zombies. Fandom plays a big part in the story, and is described in humorous terms, and although I have never been involved in fandom of any kind, I have spent enough time participating in Internet book discussion groups to know that the descriptions are accurate.

As a mystery, the book is not what one has come to expect of the genre: the death occurs more than halfway through the book, and is not revealed as a murder until 30 pages from the end, so the whodunnit part of the mystery is solved very quickly. The where-was-he-and -what-was-he-doing part takes a bit longer to solve. The identity of the murderer and the main twist will be obvious to most experienced mystery readers, the second twist is slightly more surprising (his motives), and the final one was transparent - at least to me - although I dare say it will surprise many less cynical readers.

The book is well written and funny, and I enjoyed it in spite of the long lead-up and the weak mystery. Looking forwards to reading the prequel, Bimbos of the Death Sun, which takes on sci-fi conventions. 3+ stars.


Dorte H said…
I have read a couple of her Ballad stories. Not bad as far as I recall, but I think I mainly enjoyed them for the strong sense of place.
Bibliophile said…
Dorte, I agree on the Ballard series - very strong sense of place, plus some great characters, but none of the mysteries are strong, except possibly If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O. Neither are the mysteries in the Elizabeth McPherson series strong, but the humour and characters make them good reading.
I read this book years ago because I saw a stranger with it on a plane and asked him about it. From what he said, it seemed right up my alley. I'm glad I read it. Very entertaining cast of characters. I found their interactions (and all the geekiness) to be the best part of the book.

Glad to come across your blog.

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