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Before the Dead Walked
by David Burke and Derek Hart
LuLu, $25.99, 249pp
Published: November 2018

What starts out as a covert military operation to exterminate all the Taliban goat herds in Afghanistan quickly ends up going badly awry! The dead goats suddenly reanimate and begin attacking their herders. Soon the entire Afghan population becomes an army of undead, spreading fear and devastation throughout the region.

Clear across the globe, at Fort Benning, Georgia, a test group of goats escapes and unleashes the same catastrophic results, which rapidly engulfs the entire United States.

Stick close to a special Ranger unit as they flee from Afghanistan, traveling through Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan and into southern Russia, where they sneak aboard the Trans-Siberian Express to Vladivostok. These men unknowingly carry with them the possible cure to the rampant plague. However, before they reach their destination, they are joined by a veteran US Army colonel and a beautiful female US Navy ensign who have their own agendas. This unlikely band of Americans eventually seizes a Russian trawler to make their way to Alaska, where even more surprises await them while crossing Canada to the US border.

We also see through the eyes of local Georgia emergency response workers, as they come face-to-face with the growing masses of undead plaguing their state, while trying to save the lives of everyone around them. Eventually the epidemic spreads out of control and only a handful of survivors make it to a secluded hideaway in the Georgia mountains.

This is not your typical zombie tale. Sure, there are plenty of undead to deal with, but this story is also full of plot twists and unexpected revelations, including the mystery of how this all began. Before the Dead Walked is an edge-of-your-seat barn burner, with plenty of surprises and a great cast of characters. So buckle up, hold on tight, and soar on a journey you’ll never forget!

Even though I am not a big fan of zombie books, etc. the idea of zombie goats was intriguing. While the zombie goats more or less lived up to their potential the human characters were rather two-dimensional and, to be honest, the zombie goats were way underused. A group of infected goats gets loose in Georgia at the beginning of the book, a man and his two sons retreat from their farm to their prepper location - leaving their dogs behind to fend for themselves which did not endear them to me - and then these people do not show up again until briefly at the end of the book as a sort of aside mention in the epilogue. They never have any connection to or interaction with our main group of characters.  Our main group manages to go from Afghanistan through Russia, steal a boat to get to Alaska and cross Canada all the while avoiding zombies and being captured by foreign governments because they are determined to reach the CDC with their vital information about the possible cure for the zombie plague and then they just give up and go to ground in Mt Rushmore. The only female character is poorly written - she is the one with all the knowledge of the goat zombie plague, was a large part of the operation to spray the plague over Afghanistan but she spends her time giggling and playing coy games with the main male character. The main male character, an older man, spends a lot of time thinking about her in a teenage boy manner (her tight tush and so forth) and other descriptions of her are an unrealistic teenage boy view of women - after weeks of societal collapse, living off the land and crossing multiple countries covertly she is described as always looking like a runway model first thing in the morning.

I have read many of Mr Hart’s books and much of this just does not seem like his style. There were also several distracting typos along the way so while I can recommend others of Mr Hart’s books this is one I believe will only appeal to either a diehard zombie fan or teenage boys. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

For other titles by Derek Hart click here

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