Author: Jonathan Maberry
Citadel Press: 2008
RATING: 4 / 5 zedheads
When I first purchased Zombie CSU: Forensics of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry, I expected a book that would attempt to ineffectually mash together two pop-culture trends: zombies and crime scene investigations shows. I thought it would look something like this:
In reality, Zombie CSU is written by a true zombie fan and offers a comprehensive, informative and entertaining examination of how real-life forensics, science, and law enforcement would respond to a Romero-style zombie outbreak. It is full of technical information but written for the average reader.
Tracing an imaginary zombie outbreak from the first attack through each of the procedural steps followed by law enforcement, emergency responders, forensic investigators, and the media, Jonathan Maberry comes to some interesting conclusions about how zombies might be able to exist scientifically. He also dispels many myths perpetuated by Hollywood about the ineffectiveness of the law in the face of a zombie threat.
For example, using his experience from writing about crime investigation and doing research with knowledgeable people in the law enforcement and medical fields, Maberry illustrates that the common scenario we see in the movies of slow-moving zombies overwhelming the police and military, leading to a post-apocalyptic breakdown of society, is realistically unlikely. Maberry presents modern police and emergency responders in our post 9/11 world as so well-trained and able to access a wide range of tools and national / international support that it would be highly unlikely for a zombie epidemic of the George A. Romero variety to get out of hand. A lighting-quick 28 Days Later virus is unlikely because it flies in the face of virus biology, whereas a Romero-style zombie virus makes more sense. However, a Romero-style virus is slower to spread; therefore, emergency responders would be able to identify and isolate zombies quickly.
Also, Maberry explains how zombies—scientifically speaking—probably wouldn’t look like we expect from the movies were zombies real decaying bodies. For example, the mouth of a zombie, full of those dangerous gut-munching, flesh-ripping teeth, would eventually become quite harmless as a weapon as the body rots.
Quoting Dr. Bryan Chrz, former president of the American Board of Forensic Odontology, Mayberry writes:
Teeth are not fused to the bone but rather attached to the bone by a ligament system . . . . Teeth become rapidly loose with decomposition. The periodontal ligament that holds the tooth to the bone socket decomposes with the rest of the body.
Maberry drops chunks of knowledge I'd never thought of before: decomposing zombies would probably turn toothless and lose one of their primary methods of attack.
All this and more await you in Zombie CSU, a must-have book for anyone interested in exploring the zombie genre.
Jonathan Maberry is also the author of Patient Zero (St. Martin's Griffin: 2009), a novel about a Baltimore detective secretly recruited by the government to stop a group of terrorists from releasing a bio-weapon that turns ordinary people into zombies. We'll be reviewing Patient Zero here on The Zed Word in the coming months. After getting such a kick out of Zombie CSU, I can't wait to start it.