Every time horror-minded folks get together, someone sparks a discussion about whether zombies, vampires and werewolves are headed the way of the dodo. Are the familiar tropes too tired, too used up? We’re pretty saturated on these monsters, but I have to say, it’s for a good reason. When handled well, they are unstoppable.

Nikki Hopeman’s first novel, Habeas Corpse, has been described by Michael Arnzen as “DEXTER meets Deadite”. Theo Walker isn’t your normal zombie, and Habeas Corpse isn’t your normal zombie novel. As a general rule, I hate sentient zombies. I like my zombies to be mindless and hungry. Theo, though, is as close to a normal guy as you can get. He goes to work as a forensic technician, comes home where he lives with his folks, and plays Call of Duty in zombie mode to relax. The only catch is that he’s been dead for twelve years. A series of gruesome murders piques his attention, and he must use a rather…unusual…psychic skill to solve them.

The book touches on stereotypes and prejudice, and the troubles that any minority has to deal with. Hopeman’s attention to detail of all things forensic make Theo’s adventures seem very real. She explores, without being heavy handed, what it means to live your life. There are explorations on what makes someone human, and what humanity is worth. And the book has some perfect gross outs. One scene in particular turned my stomach in ways that make me want to give the author a high five.

If you’re maxed out on zombies, check this one out. It’s reminiscent of Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lingqvist going for a playful romp with CSI. Go on and meet Theo. He’s very excited to meet you.