Book Review: Officer Barcomb vs the Undead

Let me start by saying this book was sent to us for review. I tried not to let that influence my assessment.

I wanted to like this book. I’m not a huge fan of zombies or zombie fiction, but I wanted to enjoy this story. I have a soft spot for indie creators and I often overlook minor flaws and imperfections to find the core of creativity they bring to an industry known for its tendency towards suffocating sameness. But, ultimately, Officer Barcomb vs The Undead just doesn’t have what it takes to rise above its own inadequacies.

This book reads like it was written by a 7th grade boy who threw every cool idea he ever had about zombies, explosions, cops, drug dealers, and women at a wall and jotted down a description of the mess he’d made. And not just any 7th grader either. The one with the rat tail, whose parents let him ride a dirt bike and play with air guns.

Every aspect of this book is pervaded by an absolutely juvenile world view. The main character is human garbage dressed up in a cop uniform and treated like a hero. When we meet him he’s on his way to murder a man. He never gets any better, as the rest of the story consists of him killing more and more people in increasingly improbably ways all in a quest for survival that is idiotic from the outset.

The female characters are all either idiots, victims, insane, or some combination of the three. Rape and casual misogyny abound, from both villains and heroes. The one woman in the story who shows any backbone is inexplicably hated by the main character, unless you assume he hates her precisely because she shows backbone.

I lost count of the number of times people suffered injuries that should have been crippling, if not fatal, and continued fighting as if nothing had happened. Firearms and cars are described in loving detail that borders on the fetishistic, and then two pages later operated in ways that they simply cannot operate.

This could have been a fun romp through an ’80s action tinged zombie apocalypse. It could have been a cutting satire of the ways hyper-masculine heroes are presented as good guys while doing terrible things. Instead, it comes across as an adolescent fantasy about the end of the world. Being charitable, it is possible the author was aiming for some sort of over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek place and simply didn’t get there. But, even in the most charitable of lights, I simply couldn’t recommend this to anyone. It was a challenge to force myself through it.

About Brock Nicholson 13 Articles
Comic writer, novelist, all around swell guy. I have a love for the macabre and mysterious, the spooky and the strange. I like my horror on the weird side, and only like gore when it is in service to a story. Give me the atmospheric strangeness of The VVitch or the tense social horror of Get Out, thanks. I'm also a fan of written horror. Novels hold a special power to captivate and convey emotions the screen simply cannot approach. I've recently been transplanted to West Virginia, and it's sparked a small obsession with Mothman and other cryptids. It's also put all those "backwoods" horror movies into a whole new light.