Title: Zombie Candy
Author: Frederick Lee Brooke
Review: First impressions can make or break a book, and in 17 chapters zombies were only mentioned a handful of times. I patted myself on the back for getting that far in a zombie book without any zombies to speak of. So many times I wanted to stop reading Zombie Candy because it wasn’t turning out to be nearly as funny as other reviewers had made it seem. I had hoped that by the time I had reached chapter 17 I would be laughing so hard my stomach would hurt. Instead I was so bored I could barely keep my eyes open.
The story is about Candace, a slightly overweight cooking teacher. She is married to Larry, a zombie movie loving, cilantro eating, sex addict. The author made sure that the character of Larry was virtually unlikable, as there was no way the reader was going to sympathize with him and his unsavory ways. Candace tries everything to keep her marriage alive by dressing as sexy as she can, but due to life she has gained some weight which her Russell Crowe lookalike husband loves to point out. When Candace finds another woman's bra in her husband’s bag she decides to confront her husband in front of their dinner guest and friends. I felt the first half of the book was a very long version of the reality television show, Cheaters. Only in this drawn out episode of Cheaters, the reveals of his infidelity and escapades take up the bulk of the running time. The revenge is still sweet, but it would have been much sweeter had the book not taken 48 chapters to finally pay off.
The chapter bounces back and forth from the present day to Candace's past in Italy where she spent a semester, met and dated a man, and fell in love. I found this to be tedious because I felt what could have been succinctly described in 6 chapters or fewer was drawn out into 17 chapters. For example, in Chapter 5 the author makes a big deal about Candace driving her car and almost being attacked by a sick man who sneezes blood onto her shirt. It didn't add to the story except to make Larry even more the bad guy which we already understand at this point. The author brings in Annie Candace's best friend and war veteran who is now a private investigator. Annie and P.I. partner Salvatore investigate Larry for several chapters, a fact which again, doesn't really add much except to further illustrate the idea that Larry is a dirt bag and won’t change.
I really never felt connected to Candace. She seemed whiny for the first half of the book and the second half she is almost absent from the narrative. I enjoy the revenge aspect, and how creative Candace was at systematically dismantling her husband’s life and how she went about getting back at him for sleeping with more than 88 women. It is at this point that zombies are finally brought into the story, and in that respect, it was a nice twist and a somewhat fun way to get back at Candace's Zombie loving husband.
The book felt like it just ended without much closure. If it had, it would make the book feel more complete in my eyes. They reference the titular Zombie Candy once and if the reader doesn't pay attention they will completely miss it. I was hoping for something along the lines of Zombieland humor and gory, goofy fun but instead I could it turned cyclical and boring until the last few chapters. It doesn't add anything to the zombie genre and it only mention zombies a handful of times, and then then, not until the end.
I connected with Annie as she watched her friend try to figure out her life, and how she never stepped in until Candace asked her for help. She was a good friend who did everything she could to help Candace find out the truth and gain closure.
I had a difficult time with all the inconsistences I found in Zombie Candy. For example the author has Candace tell her husband about family secret and says he never told anyone. Than right towards the end of the book the author has Candace tell her best friend the same secret and he says "No one knows not even Larry." Yet Candace told her husband the same story several chapters earlier.
I loved that at the end of the book they had all of Candace's recipes that are mentioned throughout the book. That was a nice touch.
Despite the book being described as a black comedy, I didn't not find this book to be a very effective black comedy unless you consider the last few chapters dark and funny. This is not a book about zombies as it is about relationships and the extremes Candace takes to get rid of her soon to be Ex-Husband.
There are lot depictions of sexual scenes and some language but not as much as I had expected for the topic that is discussed.
Publisher: Published May 21st 2012 by Frederick Lee Brooke
Quick Review: 21/2 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: Sent by the author for review for Novel Publicity Tours.
Synopsis: You know early on, from the color of the inappropriate bra in the opening scene, that Zombie Candy is going to be a black comedy. Most people could sympathize with the male obsession for sex and zombie movies, but who would put up with a husband who covered every dish with cilantro?
Frederick Lee Brooke serves up another literary treat with this bizarre and comical tale of love and betrayal. Candace Roach enlists her best friend Annie Ogden (our favorite sleuth from Doing Max Vinyl) to find out what her husband is really up to on his weekly business trips – but their home-cooked aversion therapy gets out of hand and hurtles along an astonishing highway of the undead.
Home from Iraq but unsure about her future, Annie Ogden isn't your typical woman sleuth. Her best friend, Candace Roach – gourmet cooking instructor, owner of a house in Tuscany – isn't your typical wronged woman either. Candace teaches gourmet cooking, and loves nothing more than orchestrating a four-course meal full of flavorful surprises and artistic touches. A selection of her recipes is found in an appendix to the book.
But with each shocking discovery in the investigation of her husband, the friendship between Candace and Annie is further put to the test. Candace ultimately takes matters into her own hands and, in an elaborate ruse, stages a nightmarish zombie drama in which her husband plays the starring role.
Weaving elements of mystery, horror and romance in a story that starts in Chicago and ends in a quaint medieval town in sun-drenched Tuscany, Zombie Candy transcends any single genre. Embark on a journey that will tickle your taste buds as it wakes up your funny bone.
Author Biography: I love meeting other readers and authors on Goodreads. My first book, Doing Max Vinyl (An Annie Ogden Mystery) came out in May 2011. Annie's last name gives away my Chicago roots. Doing Max Vinyl is now also available in paperback format.
The second Annie Ogden mystery is available now. To celebrate, I'm organizing a giveaway which will end on July 21, 2012!
Mostly I spend my time writing, but I also like to cook for our family of five. Three out of five have to eat a gluten-free diet and I don't eat meat, so we are very creative in the kitchen. I share some of my favorite recipes in the second Annie Ogden mystery.