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Posted on Nov 29, 2010 in Stuff We Like

Tooth and Nail – Book Review

By Brian King

Tooth and Nail. Craig Dilouie. Schmidt Haus Books. $16.95.

This book managed to cover pretty much the entire spectrum of my interests when it comes to fiction. It involves characters in a military unit from battalion down to squad level; it involves what could loosely be described as a post-apocalyptic landscape set in New York City; it involves a fight against long odds with little hope of rescue or survival; and most importantly it involves real, honest-to-goodness Zombies! Yeah, the ingredients are all there for a perfect story. It was also very reasonably priced on Kindle, at $4.79 at the time of this writing.

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Imagine if during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a terrible flu-like virus struck the world, including the United States. The mortality rate is staggering, and the overall death toll of the virus in the US alone is projected to reach two to three million. As the extent of the virus becomes clear, overseas military units are pulled out of combat and rushed home to mainland America to keep the peace, guard the sick, and protect the survivors. We jump into the story with members of a platoon from the Sixth Infantry Division as they are ordered to guard Trinity Hospital in New York City, which had become a collection point for those sick with what was formally being called the Lyssavirus. Initially, as you can imagine, the task of protecting the hospital is grim but not exactly a challenge for trained veterans of the missions overseas. However, you won’t be surprised when things begin to get FUBAR as the hospital fills up and the sick are turned away at the barracades. The problems of using combat units to exert non-lethal force in protecting US citizens quickly become apparent. Much of the initial story focuses on how platoon size units are forced to handle the deteriorating situation around this area of the city.

However, the book jumps into overdrive once the Mad Dogs start showing up. These victims of Lyssavirus are a small percentage of the sick who are unlucky enough to have the virus move into their brains. They become hostile, paranoid, and very much like the name implies—mad dogs. Initially these are a small subset of the population and easily dispatched, but they have some attributes which make them nearly impossible to contain in the long term, a result of the transmission of the virus. It won’t shock anyone reading this to know things degrade quickly for the soldiers in the platoon, and in fact for the entire brigade in New York proper. As the mad dogs get out of control, the story really becomes a page turner.

The focus of the soldiers evolves from that of protection of territory to protection of refugees and finally to their own survival. Their orders are to secure scientists from a research lab who may have an explanation for the secondary outbreak of these mad dogs and then evacuate the unit from the deteriorating city. As they conduct this mission using well-described military tactics the book really hits its stride and delivers all the way to the end. What we are left with is a very grisly world where entire cities are cordoned off in an attempt to prevent the inevitable. While the mad dogs may seem like Zombies, the story explains their behavior in a very believable fashion and as such this story is not implausible in the least. That makes the whole book even more frightening.

I have no problem recommending this one.

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