Full Disclosure: I was invited to be a contributor to Zombie CSU, and then my contribution was cut in the editing process. Probably, it is not possible to objectively review a book after this has happened to you. However, Zombie CSU is an interesting tome that deserves a review, so I’m gonna give it a go.
Jonathan Mayberry’s Zombie CSU (published this month by Citadel Press) is a long, low love-song to all things zombie. It is a compendium of musings, interviews, and artwork (by many, many artists). It is an orgy of opinion, discussion, facts, and conjectures about zombies. And it does, rather loosely, contain information about how law enforcement officials might hypothetically seek to fight zombies. (Mayberry’s real-world “experts” give every appearance of being culled from groups of neighbors and friends he knows personally in rural Pennsylvania. Perhaps this must be so. [I wonder how long you could keep your job as a real police commissioner somewhere if you let it be widely known that you fancy yourself “the national expert on handling hypothetical zombie attacks…”])
When I told my friend Chris that there was going to be a book called Zombie CSU, he conjectured that you would have to be the worst cop in the world to happen upon a crime perpetrated by zombies (farmhouse door ripped down, valuables left untouched, residents’ brains eaten) and need to “call in a special squad” to figure out what had happened. If you can’t get a hunch or something from all the brainless bodies, then dude, it’s time to think about a new career…
Happily, Mayberry does not long mediate upon these technical points. Rather, he makes the bulk of the book a rollicking and delightful collage of zombie information. I was most interested in his lists of best and worst zombie films. (I get the impression he has seen even more zombie films that I have, which is saying something…) I was also interested in his brief meditation on sexually exploitative zombie-themed media, and wished he had explored it at greater length. (Zombies have no place for racism, but what about sexism? Zombies don’t seem to discriminate based upon sex, but could appearances be misleading? And does the zombie-fan community mirror zombies themselves on this subject by not being sexist, or is there a double-standard? Clearly, there is more here for someone to write about.)
Final Assessment: I think it’s a good book. In taking such a wide and eclectic survey, Mayberry has done a sort of study in “zombie phenomenology.” Zombie-culture evolves, you see. And if a cultural historian in the distant future needs to know “What was zombie-culture like back in 2008?” then he or she will need look no further than Zombie CSU for a definitive answer.