Reviewed by Dorothy Emry
Close your eyes and think for minute about what might happen if The Office met The Walking Dead. That will give you some idea of what lies within the pages of Lucy Leitner’s Working Stiffs, Book 4 in Necro Publications’ Fresh Flesh Series. The story is set in Pittsburg, PA, the author’s adopted hometown.
Pro-Well Pharmaceuticals CEO Marshall Owens is no new comer to combating negative PR. A one time meth-dealer, Owens has turned his hand to running legal drugs, the kind developed to “find every possible solution to anything that kills, sickens, or just plain bothers mankind from cancer to male cleft chins” as he tells a local newscaster. In the public eye, he seems to have turned over a new leaf, concerned with the greater good of humanity. Inside his corporation, he’s concerned, like most CEOs, with maintaining a good bottom line, but Owens’s cost cutting method hinges on his drug-induced homeless-people-converted-to-zombie chain gang to work the factory production lines. The advantage: zombies don’t demand health or paid holidays. Disadvantage: their flesh-eating tendencies.
Even before the zombies get out of hand and invade their office space, Pro-Well’s still-living staff members are a generally cranky bunch of eccentric characters. Hank, an ex-con who hangs out at a gay bar called the Male Box, is the world’s ultimate poster boy for disgruntled employee. Will, Hank’s rule-abiding rotund supervisor, seems to live to recite company policy to his coworkers. Lillian, Will’s pear-shaped paramour, is in charge of terminations and therefore the company’s most despised employee. The new kid on the block is Janice, a Goth girl with misplaced romantic notions about Hank, whose first day a work just happens to be the day the undead begin their ghastly takeover.
Quirky characters and comic imagery make this book an entertaining first novel. Leitner has a talent for crafting amusing quips such as the description of one zombie with “eyes as glazed as a Krispy Kreme doughnut” and Will’s PC defense of his recently reanimated coworkers as “living impaired.” Most of the characters are perpetual complainers however. Hank, the main character, is negative about almost everything and everyone in his life before, during and after the advent of the zombie attacks. His negative inner dialogue gets a bit old before the end of the book. Overall, though, Working Stiffs is a fun read and hopefully this belated review (the paperback ebook came out in May last year!) will provide a boost in sales for the book and some well-deserved attention for its author. For more about Lucy Leitner and her views on zombies you can read this interview at Boring Pittsburg.
Pub Date: December 18, 2012
Publisher: Necro Publications
Print length: 246 pages