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Literature / Undead on Arrival

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Five years after the Zombie Apocalypse, a community of survivors has made a home in the California vacation town of Devon. Glen Novak, one of the town fathers, has been bitten by a zombie head intentionally planted in his home. Now he has 24 hours to find who killed him before he turns. Undead On Arrival is a zombie noir novel.

Undead On Arrival provides examples of:

  • A House Divided: Devon is controlled by rival gangs.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Walters chief guard Sakimoto is a judo expert.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: The Rosenberg Brothers, Jacob and Micah have traditionally Jewish names but are loyal, high-placed members of Reverend Rippey’s camp (although perhaps more for mercenary reasons than religious ones).
  • An Axe to Grind: Novak uses a hatchet in his dominant hand to split zombie, or "geek," skulls.
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  • Agent Peacock: Pulaski, Novak's transvestite enforcer, who spends most of the books gleefully cutting people and zombies apart with a katana (and dancing to Michael Jackson). Unlike everyone else in town, Pulaski doesn't use a gun. He doesn't need one.
  • Anti-Hero: Glen Novak isn't exactly a nice guy. He's the best of a group of bad men.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Ricky Robadella (a student form Novak's gym class during the outbreak) is the youngest and most idealistic of his inner circle, and a Non-Action Guy.
  • Badass Gay: Stew, Novak's right hand man, is gay, married, kills zombies by the boatload with a machete, and is probably the person most capable of leading Devon.
  • Batter Up!: Subverted. When Novak is roughing up his first suspect (a refugee whose wife he extorted for sex) the man's teenage daughter tries to make him stop with a baseball bat but is quickly scared into backing down.
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  • Battle in the Rain: The second half of the book, featuring frequent battles, takes place in a rainstorm.
  • Bittersweet Ending: bear with me here. Granted, Novak is either dead or damn sight better off that way; however, over the course of the plot he took out all the other town leaders who were, by and large, far bigger scumbags than him. Moreover Stew, Novak's appointed successor and thus most likely to take charge, seems to be both a capable leader and a pretty decent guy. Granted, there is the small matter of a zombie swarm but beyond that things just might improve for the community.
  • Blood Knight: Pulaski relishes fighting.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: A sympathetic version when Novak convinces Ford that Rippey doesn’t deserve his protection and is a detriment to Devon, causing him to step aside and let Novak at his terrified and outraged boss.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Tommy Martinez is bitten and killed on an excursion out of town before Novak even gets bitten, initially seeming like a Sacrificial Lamb to showcase the dangers of the world. Later, however, it's revealed that Reverend Rippey had been trying to convince him to kill Walter making Walter paranoid towards Novak and his people, with an attempt he made to kill Pulaski while Novak happened to be nearby further convincing Novak that Walter might have been the one who put the head in his locker, and at the end it's revealed that his death and Novak's reaction to it were the final straw for Ricky, who'd been agonizing about whether or not to kill Novak for a while.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: Inez's cousin was Walter's gardener before Inez and Walter got married (following the infection and Mercy Kill of his first wife) and her cousin got promoted to Walter's inner circle, but given rumors that her cousin put down Walter's first wife when he couldn't do it himself, it's unclear which one of them first came into Walter's favor (Inez for her Trophy Wife beauty or her cousin for performing that service) and then managed to get Walter interested in the other one.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Downplayed, but the setting is a former resort town.
  • Cue the Rain: Devon gets hit by a rainstorm right when the building zombie horde breaks through the town gates.
  • Dirty Coward: Both Walter and Rippey show fear when confronted and accused by an angry Novak and in the backstory when an outbreak breached the gates, Rippey was prepared to abandon Devon and Walter remained holed up in the Athena before Novak, Pulaski and Martinez single handedly cleaned out the zombies inside the gates.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted, as it's Novak who dies this way.
  • Downer Ending: Novak murders his murderer after accepting the kid's apology, and then kills himself
  • Drop the Hammer: Novak uses a small sledgehammer in his offhand. Additionally, other fighting men are described as carrying "guns and hammers." Makes sense, as after a zombie apocalypse, you take what you can find and there are hammers everywhere.
  • Fantastic Noir: This is a classic noir story... WITH ZOMBIES.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Novak and Stew were feuding neighbors before the apocalypse brought them together.
  • Freudian Trio: Novak is the Ego, Pulaski the Id, and Stew the Superego.
  • Genre-Busting: Noir. Zombies. Two great tastes.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Sure, Novak used to be a gym teacher, but his murder isn't going to solve itself.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Walter enjoys cooking and eating zombies, to Novak’s disgust.
  • I Own This Town: Walter ran Devon before he outbreak and in the early months afterwards. Reverend Rippey took all of it away form him except for the Hotel Athena after arriving, although he lost The Hill to Novak after he and his group arrived.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Novak strong-arms nearly everyone he talks to. The trope itself is averted as every one of these people lies to him, though that's not immediately apparent.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Ford and Sakiamato are both evenly matched with Novak in a fight, but are both far more moral than the men they serve and don’t necessarily want to fight him. Most of this applies to Novak's enforcer Pulaski as well.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Zombies are referred to as "geeks."
  • One-Man Army: Novak, Pulaski, Stew, Martinez, Sakimoto and Ford are all incredibly formidable against both zombies and humans.
  • Only Sane Man: Stew is the most normal and stable of Novak's group, and arguably the town as a whole.
  • Papa Wolf: Rob Franklin is initially accused of having pimped out his eleven-year old daughter to one of Walters men but in fact chased the man off with a shotgun and thanks Novak upon hearing he killed him.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Rippey's child brides quickly establish him as a dirtbag, and Novak extolling sex out of desperate women on the hill by giving them extra food isn't portrayed as being a positive thing and is part of the reason Ricky decided to kill him.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Zombies are killed by destroying their medulla oblongata (the "medusa something" in the words of the protagonist).
  • Saloon Owner: Novak's associate Nunez is a post-apocalyptic version, although he's less influential than the trope would normally imply.
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Rippey is constantly trying to assassinate his rival, stirs up hate and has child brides.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Dr Judy Bloch, the last doctor in town works hard to keep the gene pool viable in the limited population and keeps a couple (with their jawbones removed to prevent an outbreak if they get loose) chained up zombies she studies trying to find a way to understand and potentially stop their herd migratory tendencies. The town still isn’t happy when they find out but Novak is able to keep them from lynching her.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: When Novak finds his killer, it turns out it's one of his closest allies, a poor, scared kid who regrets the hell out of what he did.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Pulaski is one of the more heroic characters in the book. He's also the most fabulous. When asked why he does it started when he was his older sisters liked to dress him up like that for fun, and he kind of liked it.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Dr. Bloch remains convinced that humanity can and will bounce back despite their low population. Ricky Robadella obsesses with writing a new US constitution Novak doubts will ever mean anything or comes to pass and only decided to kill Novak due to feeling he was becoming a dictator, only to change his mind too late when it came down to it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Inez, who justifies it by saying that otherwise, it would have led to a case it You Killed My Father a few years down the road. Novak is far from placated.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Inez has been having an affair with Novak, causing Walter to become one of Novak's prime suspect for the zombie head being placed in his trunk.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: It's five years later.
  • Zombie Infectee: The protagonist of the novel, in the very first chapter.


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