An original blend of hardboiled crime fiction and horror – Zombie Noir.
Pat O’Hare is the only (living) private detective in Farrelton, a crime-ridden city still recovering from the ravages of an undead uprising. Pat is hired to find the missing granddaughter of a rich industrialist. But, what starts out as simple enough job turns into a fight for survival as he finds himself pulled into a deadly mystery where nobody can be trusted. Helped only by a trigger happy ex-cop and a washed up boxer with a pathological fear of trees, Pat has to use every trick in the book just to stay alive.
Caught between corrupt police, gun-wielding hitmen and a ruthless crime lord, Pat soon learns that the zombies are not the most dangerous creatures in town.
I moved my head, then instantly regretted it. There was a lump the size of a small dinosaur egg on the side of my head and it throbbed like it was trying to hatch. I groaned, gingerly lifting myself to a sitting position. I felt like I had three of the world’s worst hangovers, all rolled into one. And each of those had a hangover of its own.
‘Ah, you’re awake.’
A man sat perched on the edge of the toilet. He was small, almost gnome-like. His legs dangled over the edge of the toilet, barely touching the floor. He grinned with a mouth that contained way too many teeth. A thin pencil moustache hovered over his upper lip.
‘Who’re you?’ I asked. I pushed my hands against the side of the tub, lifting myself up.
‘Please, don’t get up,’ said the man. He spoke with perfect intonation, each word rolling gently off the tongue. Nobody I knew had an accent like that. Had to be British.
I ignored him, rising to my feet.
‘Maybe you misunderstood,’ the man said. ‘When I say don’t get up, I’m not being polite. I mean it, don’t get up. I prefer you laying down.’
‘What’re you going to do?’ I asked, standing straight. ‘Bite my kneecaps?’
He raised his voice. ‘Max, could I have some assistance in here?’
The bathroom door swung open and the void was filled by a monster of a man. His shoulders rubbed against both sides of the door frame at the same time. He was crouching slightly, otherwise his head wouldn’t have fitted under the lintel. He wore a T-shirt the size of a body bag, stretched tight across thick balloon-like muscles. A long mane of greasy hair fell across his eyes.
‘Yuh?’ the big man grunted. His lower jaw hung slack, like it was too much mental effort to keep his mouth closed.
The small man said, ‘Max, please, could you convince our friend here to lay back down?’
The monster moved fast for such a big man. Before I could react, he’d crossed the bathroom floor and planted a huge fist in my stomach. All of the air whooshed out of my body. My guts felt like they were being turned inside out. I fell to my knees, clutching my stomach. Lights danced in front of my eyes.
It took a while before I could breathe without feeling the need to puke. I wheezed. ‘Damn, how’d you get so big? Your Mama drop you in a vat of steroids when you were a baby?’
The big man smiled, although there was no warmth. He was like an alligator that had lost its shirt on the Kentucky Derby and was looking for someone to take it out on.
‘Very droll,’ said the smaller man. ‘Now, you’re probably wondering what we’re doing here in your apartment.’
‘It did occur to me.’
‘Then let me introduce myself. My name is Sam and I shall be your torturer for the evening.’
Stuart McLean (aka CS McLean) is a writer currently living in St Albans. He studied Chemistry at the University of Hertfordshire – although, this was back in the days when the Premiership was still called Division One and Hatfield was still a Polytechnic.
He was shortlisted for the first Margery Allingham short story competition, and was twice shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland short story competition.
Stuart was a finalist in the 2016 Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect competition, in which he pitched his brand of zombie noir to a largely bewildered group of panellists. He was also chosen as one of the 2018 Bloody Scotland Crime in the Spotlight authors, a platform to highlight new and emerging crime writers.
When not writing, Stuart likes to play various musical instruments, all very badly; guitar, ukulele, trumpet and harmonica. But, not at the same time.