Set in the fictional English seaside town of Haven, Dead Beat is the debut novel of British author, Remy Porter. The hero of the novel is Police Constable Johnny Silverman, a character whom we learn is not without his flaws. The story opens with Johnny on patrol during a night shift that becomes ever more frantic and chaotic. To have to deal with one murder would be unusual, but multiple murders in such a short span of time is unheard of in this idyllic part of the country. It is not long before he realises that the recently dead are returning to life with just one over-riding goal – to consume the flesh of the living.
From there we enter familiar zombie territory with an ever dwindling group of folk trying to survive the apocalypse. Inevitably, there are differences of opinion as to the best way to go about this task. Local farmer, Jack Nation, clashes with Johnny the instant they meet and you just know he’s going to be trouble. Jack convinces almost all of the townsfolk that their best chance of survival is to stay at his farm. However, in truth, they are swapping one form of hell for another. Johnny, along with a young female police constable and an aged, alcoholic prisoner, spend most of the novel holed up in the town’s police station.
The zombies are a constant threat throughout the novel. Each day, their numbers grow stronger. Johnny and Jack clash repeatedly as the bad blood between them festers out of control. The greatest threat in this novel is not the zombies but other humans, especially Jack and his two psychotic sons, who sink to unspeakable depths of depravity once they realise that law and order no longer exists.
This is an exciting, fast-paced novel. Johnny is a well-rounded character who struggles with his inner demons throughout the story. Jack Nation and his sons are the very personification of evil as they rule their land with a rod of iron. Writer, Iain McKinnon, provides a foreword that whets the appetite for the main course. Despite a few minor quibbles, like poor proofreading, this is a worthy debut novel. I can highly recommend it to all fans of zombie literature.