Mountain Man: Prequel

It was extra cold outside of my new home in February. Normally, that would mean breaking out some reading on polar exploration reading. But I didn’t see any Kindle appropriate titles on Amazon, and most of the books were still back in the old place.

So, in the sort of association that, to be honest, guides much of my reading, I thought of Mountain Man’s snowy cover and that reminded me there were some installments in Blackmore’s zombie series that I hadn’t read.

Review: Mountain Man: Prequel, Keith C. Blackmore, 2017.

Cover by James T. Egan

By the time he finished Well Fed, Blackmore was burned out on writing zombie stories. But fans are going to be fans, and they wanted an origin story for series hero Gus. So, Blackmore wrote this book.

As we’ll see, though, Blackmore did find more Mountain Man stories to write.

Being an origin story, we learn how Gus came to have his van, the “Beast”, wield a baseball bat in his zombie slaughtering sprees, and gets his mountain top lair well stocked with his friends Uncle Jack and Captain Morgan.

All this means, necessarily, the plot has no broad surprises, and the characters, besides Gus, aren’t going to be seen again in the series. However, they don’t all die and those that do don’t always get by zombie chompers.

Blackmore is skilled at his action scenes, but his strongest point is his characters and often humorous banter

Here most of that is between Gus and his employee Toby. Gus is co-owner of a painting business, and the story opens ominously enough when a client’s wife comes home early and vomits her insides out.

But it’s days end, and Gus is looking forward to spend the night with his girlfriend Tammy.

But co-owner Benny has other ideas: just a quick nighttime job at the offices of the local Mollymart store. It might mean other work from the franchise – and get Benny into the pants of the attractive local district manager. (And, yes, now that you mention it, Mollymart is rather like a certain worldwide, Arkansas-based retailer.)

So Gus, Toby, and the rest of the crew assemble.

And, after finishing, up around midnight, things get rather noisy on the floor below, and we’re introduced to the rest of the characters which will be present in the shopping mall section of the story which is, of course, reminiscent of George Romero’s film Dawn of the Dead.

When a zombie is taken out by Frying Pan Woman, we get the Bitch who insists on taking names and bossing everyone around. But her normality bias starts to fray when 911 calls go unanswered and zombies start to pile up outside the door. Phone Guy does nothing but stand around filming stuff. Mollymart employee Rebecca tells them it sure seems like a zombie apocalypse.

Soon enough, they learn just how much damage zombies can take without going permanently done, and, while Mollymart may have lots supplies, it’s not defensible. A break is made for their cars in the parking lot which will be the end of some characters.

It’s mostly Gus and Toby at this point. Hiding out in a house, both try to come to terms with memories of friends and loved ones now murderous zombies roaming the streets outside, and sporadic tv and Twitter feeds show it’s a disaster affecting far more than the city of Annapolis.

Mountain Man fans will, of course, want to read this. Hemmed in as he is by this being a prequel, Blackmore’s considerable talents are on full display here. And, even if I didn’t feel the need for Gus’ origin story, I still appreciated all those scenes between Toby and Gus.

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