Joe McKinney is a great horror writer and a really nice guy. I was out of the horror industry when Joe burst on the scene with Dead City a decade ago, and I’m only now catching up on all of the great stories and novels Joe’s written since. The Savage Dead (Pinnacle, September 2013) breaks from Joe’s usual “everyman” (average person caught up in extraordinary events) archetype and features three extraordinarily capable characters. Juan Perez and Tess Compton are Secret Service agents assigned to protect Senator Rachel Sutton, an anti-drug crusader in Congress. Pilar (aka Monica Rivas)works for Mexican drug cartel czar Ramon Medina. Juan and Tess foiled two earlier Medina plots to kill Senator Sutton, so Medina goes all out and unleashes a bio-engineered zombie plague aboard a cruise ship where Sutton and her husband, guarded only by Tess, try to save their failing marriage. Medina places Pilar on the same ship with instructions to disable the ship and ensure Sutton dies.
Juan, while investigating the Medina cartel,discovers the zombie plot. He pulls strings at the White House and gets priority to lead a Delta Force SOG rescue of Sutton and Tess. But Juan’s rescue teams are killed by the zombies, and Juan must face the zombie hoard and Pilar’s guns in a desperate race against time. Two F-15s are coming to blow the ship out of the water within minutes. The tension mounts, each chapter is literally a cliff-hanger, and the big-bang finish caps a well-told story that’s a thrill a minute.