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Book Review: Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry

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Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry is a high-concept book that can best be described as Dawn of the Dead meets CSI. Maberry is obsessed with two things: zombies, and crime scenes. Sounds fun, right? Well, not so much.

Zombie CSU basically reads like a textbook, albeit one for the layperson. Maberry covers every conceivable aspect of a zombie murder: investigating the crime scene, collecting evidence, tracking a zombie suspect, doing an “autopsy” on a zombie, even the “legal ramifications of a zombie plague” – aka, how to try a zombie in our current judicial system. Other sections include a look at the best weapons and self-defense tactics to use against the undead.

Scattered throughout the book are a significant number of sidebars dealing with every possible debate and idea within “zombie culture.” A look at the best zombie films, the worst, and the most obscure. Continuing debates between the merits of speedy zombies versus slow stumbling zombies. Stories of scientists reanimating dead dogs (for realsies). Recommended zombie reading. There are hundreds of pieces of artwork by dozens of the “top zombie artists.”

Maberry has done his research. He cites precedent and knows his history. He has obviously watched and read all the zombie media he speaks about. He has interviewed pathologists, lawyers, therapists, nurses, hospital administrators, EMTs, police, infectious disease specialists, religious leaders, and more. Sounds pretty good, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not. It is dull. Great concept, really thoroughly researched and written. A lot of love obviously went into this book. But there is so much attention paid to the mechanics, the intricacies, the logic, the details. It becomes, as I stated earlier, like a textbook. And let’s face it: the possibility of the dead rising to eat our brains is pretty damn slim. It is a concept that should be approached with humor, with gore, with just a little bit of fun. But it’s not. I felt like I was studying while reading this book.

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