Book Review Friday: I Ate The Sheriff by K Bennett

Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law. She ate the sheriff, but she did not eat the deputy.

Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law. She ate the sheriff, but she did not eat the deputy.

I Ate the Sheriff, K. Bennett’s third installment in the Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law series, is as fast-paced and entertaining as the previous novels. Mallory has settled into her reanimated existence, attending Zombie Anonymous meetings, working on a defense for her zombie-killing father, and trying to stay on the straight and narrow. Hard to do when you’re hungering for PhD brains, resisting the romantic advances of a werewolf and refusing to pick sides in a war between good and evil that is shaping up in Los Angeles.

Though fictional, Mallory is a shining example of all a zombie is capable of. She regulates her need for human brains by subsisting on cow brains. She repairs her physical injuries and passes as a human. She continues relationships forged during her life, including with her perpetually stoned mother and the lover who had a hand in her zombification. Her quick wit and legal know how allow her to continue to live independently and thrive in her new circumstances.

K Bennett once again puts together a compelling story with a believable, capable zombie lead character. An enjoyable read that belongs in every zombie lover‘s library. Pick up I Ate the Sheriff and treat yourself. Available at Amazon in Kindle or mass market paperback.

I Feed Zombies so You Don’t Have To

If you believe popular stereotypes, a zombie wants nothing more than to dine on a menu of human flesh and brains. In fact, most people believe zombies will bypass dogs, cats, rabbits, and even cows to track down the limited amount of humans available and eat them.

Night of the Living Dead screenshot -- a young...

Night of the Living Dead screenshot — a young zombie (Kyra Schon) and her victim (Karl Hardman). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend the SyFy channel‘s feature, “Rise of the Zombies,” perpetuated this falsehood through the use of repetitive scenes of zombies eating people, mostly eating their intestines.  Most movies rely on intestine eating as their go to graphic, certainly its shown more than the focus of brain eating. I think filmmakers enjoy using the intestines because they are easy to make, can feed a mob of ravenous zombies and ripping open a stomach is easier than gaining access through someone’s head.  Logically, unless one believes zombies possess superhuman strength a la vampires, their ability to either detach a head or punch through a skull make it highly unlikely they can reach the brains they (supposedly) desire. In K. Bennett’s book, Pay Me In Flesh, zombie at law Mallory Caine uses an “ice pick with a hook” to get her daily dose of brains, but the zombies of film don’t have those kind of thinking skills and Ms. Caine is not your usual zombie.

Prior to the Great Infection our knowledge of their feeding habits wasn’t informed by the reality of a zombie diet. Our first batch of zombie child refugees presented a dilemma for staffers. None of us were interested in procuring the freshly dead (or making the live dead) in order to feed the children, but we all acknowledged that they needed nourishment. Because of our committment to the environment, we originally hoped they would flourish on an all plant diet. Since over half of the world depends on rice for 80% of it’s diet, we started our experiments there.

In a method reminiscent of Forrest Gump and his shrimp, we tried cooked rice, raw rice, rice balls, fried rice, rice pilaf, dirty rice, and rice and beans using white rice, brown rice, short grained rice, long grained rice, wild rice, basmati rice, and jasmine rice. No matter how we cooked it, it our zombie children turned up their noses. In desperation we even died it red and forced it into sausage casings. No luck. A similar variety of pastas and beans met the same fate. Our plant-based offerings rotted in the holding pens while the zombie children howled in hunger.

Next we tried a variety of fruits and vegetables. Our greatest success came with the use of grapes and watermelon. We hoped the zombies would think the grapes were like eyeballs and the watermelon, with its hard rind and soft middle, a brain substitute. Sadly, though the children loved playing with the fruit, they stubbornly refused to eat it. Many was the night that the communal cafeteria was covered in watermelon seeds and grape skins while the children gnashed their teeth in frustration.

Finally, in spite of  our reservations, we experimented with meat. Being sensitive to the issues of world hunger, the environmental impact of meat-eating, and not wishing to divert food targeted for humans, we searched for meat byproducts that were currently discarded because there was no salable market.

We quickly chose cow brains.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a disease which literally makes the brains and spinal cords of infected animals become sponge-like. Interestingly enough, symptoms of mad cow disease are similar to symptoms of the Infection. Cattle infected with BSE will become increasingly aggressive, react excessively to noise or touch, and eventually become ataxic . The National Ataxia Foundation explains:  The word ataxia is often used to describe a symptom of incoordination which can be associated with infections, injuries, other diseases, or degenerative changes in the central nervous system.  Though humans that eat meat infected with BSE cow brains can develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or CJD, zombies already have an ataxic disorder and are immune to CJD. If our zombie kids ate cow brains, they’d be diverting potentially dangerous cow brains away from human consumption.

Armed with this knowledge, we purchased large amounts of cow brains and attempted to feed  them to the zombie children. At first, we were unsuccessful. The smell of rotting cow’s brains filled the cafeteria and covered the campus. Undeterred, we experimented with serving the brains at different temperatures until we found that most zombies loved brains heated to  98.6.  Our original warmers, lines of extra-large crockpots, didn’t provide a consistent temperature, cooked the brains,  and could only fit a limited amount of brains. Luckily, our staff members are inquisitive, persistent, and willing to try new things.

Natural-Beef (buynaturalbeef.us) ...item 3..St...

Natural-Beef (buynaturalbeef.us) …item 3..Stop Feeding Cows Chicken Manure (Posted: 04/26/2012 8:52 am) … (Photo credit: marsmet491)

Eventually we constructed a conveyor belt that dips the cow brains into a warm water blood bath and heats them to the appropriate temperature without damaging the integrity of their uncooked state. When we rolled this out, the zombie children moaned in delight. Watching them stuff their little faces with warm handfuls of cow brains truly was a watershed moment for our organization. After that, it was only a matter of finding slaughter houses willing to sell and ship their unwanted cow brains to our haven.

In our zeal to be responsible stewards of  the environment, we also set up a localvore program where we purchase deer, elk, and goat brains from local hunters and small farmers for the children.  This has provided economic gains for local businesses.

Your donation to Z.E.R.O. not only feeds the zombie kids, it also minimizes the chance of mad cow disease transmission, and supports small business. We don’t mind feeding the children so you don’t have to, but we need donations to do it.

We will be providing information on how to direct donations to our organization in future posts.

Book Review Friday, Pay Me In Flesh (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law

Pay Me In Flesh, by K. Bennett, is an excellent example of a novel that veers away from the tired, old stereotypes of shuffling, brain-dead zombies and shows a more realistic portrayal of an individual infected with the zombie virus.  Lawyer Mallory Caine has lost none of her intelligence, sharp wit, or desire to do courtroom battle since her unsolved murder and subsequent reanimation. Now, in addition to all of the other problems faced by a single girl in the big city of Los Angeles, she must eat brains to survive. At least until she can find the person responsible for turning her into a zombie.

Ms. Caine is no dirt covered ghoul content to stay on the fringes of society. Good grooming and beauty products allow her to pass in the world of humans. She takes her place in the courtroom, goes on dates with an old boyfriend, and trolls for brains in back alleys.  Reluctantly trolls for brains. Yes, a zombie with a conscience.

The tension is high and action fast as Mallory navigates a world of treachery and bias.  It’s refreshing to read a zombie novel that eschews the one-dimensional and gives us a vibrant, multidimensional character that is neither good nor evil, but somewhere in between.

A must read for zombies and anyone who loves them.

Pay Me In Flesh (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law). Bennett has published two sequels, The Year of Eating Dangerously (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law) #2 and I Ate the Sheriff (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law).