Posted on October 7, 2009 by Steven Dawes
When I got my mitts on a copy of “The Kill Crew”, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I’d never heard of author Joseph D’Lacey before and had no idea what to expect from him. The book itself is only a slim eighty pages and most of my experiences with novella’s of this size haven’t been exactly stellar. However, it was as good of a time as any to dig in and see what Mr. D’Lacey had to say, so I did.
At first my expectations began to dwindle in the first few chapters. The Kill Crew tells a tale about a group of survivors dealing with the aftermath of a zombie like plague. All the zombie fanatics out there will find familiar territory in these first few chapters, especially fans of the comic series The Walking Dead. The zombie’s types here are referred to as “Commuters” due to the fact that they only come out at night and because the majority of these things in life were the commuting white-collared desk jockeys and similar professionals still garbed in their professional attire.
To survive against the overwhelming odds and numbers, the survivors have built up walls and defenses around a city block and have labeled it “The Station”. From within the feeble safety of the Station, the story is told from the perspective of Sheri. Before the plague Sheri was a hairdresser, but she has since become one of the best “crewers” in the nightly “Kill Crew”. You see, every night, seven individuals either volunteer or are drawn from a lottery to join the crew, acting as hunters and defenders that go over the wall and protect the city by gunning down the Commuters when they find them. Sheri is the best and most experienced crewer in the Station.
Sounds familiar right? Well, Joseph’s got a few tricks up his sleeves with his narrative. As the story goes on, it takes a surprise turn and drives us into the emotional and psychological state of Sheri and the Station’s residents. It not enough that Sheri has to deal with the pressures and dangers of being a crewer at night. During the day she deals with Ike, her clingy and subservient (if not spineless) boyfriend of convenience and their suddenly messy relationship. When not dealing with him, she’s taking care of an emotionally demolished and parentless eleven year named Trixie. She also deals with the growing realization that the Station’s population is diminishing at a steady pace, either through the nightly crew work or suicide.
Due to the surprising nature and turns of The Kill Crew, I won’t give any further details so you can experience it for yourself. I will say however that before I knew it, the story dropped its facade of being a zombie tale and really started sucker punching me with a very emotional and character driven page turner. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put this bad boy down. I even did something out of character for me; I took the time to take the crew out for a second reading. The Kill Crew has become of the best surprises of the year for me. It’s a very interesting read that works of several different levels.
A lot of credit goes out to D’Lacey on this one, especially as he’s been under my radar all this time. His ability to create such emotional inducing prose in a “zombie” story was nothing short of outstanding. I’ve since looked into his work and learned that his scribes have previously only been released in the U.K. However, with Stonegarden Publishing bringing this beauty over to the states, here’s hoping they’ll bring over more as I’m interesting in reading more of his work.
In the meantime, I encourage not only fans of “zombie driven” horror tales, but fans of complex character driven stories based in hope and survival to come and join the Kill Crew with me.
Review by By Steven Dawes