Monday, October 14, 2013

Braineater Jones / Stephen Kozeniewski

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Noir Detective / Zombie / Horror / Fantasy

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
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“Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife of 9 years and cat of 22 pounds in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into right now.

During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow.”

“Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.

As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.

Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.”


This story is narrated by Braineater Jones, we get to see his undead life through his eyes as we join him on his mission to find answers to his growing list of questions. Who is he? Who murdered him and why? Kozeniewski has invented his own brand of zombies in this story. There is no explaining who will reanimate after death and who will not. To keep their undead selves functioning and their “brain wheels” turning they must have liquor. This is a real problem during Prohibition since without alcohol they will turn into a true brain eating zombie.

Jones becomes a private eye of sorts for the undead community as he works his way through mysteries of his own undead life. I enjoyed reading the author’s noir style of storytelling. Here is a sample of Kozeniewski’s writing when a client comes through Jones’s door. 

It was a dame of course. She had legs up to her eyeballs. Literally. She was carrying a pair of legs, one over each shoulder… “Pawn shop’s downstairs. Not sure if they take drumsticks but never hurts to check.” “I’m here for you, Mr. Jones,” she said… She threw the getaway sticks down on my desk. The toes were clenching, and the feet kept arching and flattening…Her brother was still controlling his legs remotely, kicking to let her know he was still alive. Undead. Whatever. It was a signal, a distress call, an S-O-S by L-E-G.

The plot has a good pace and the storylines intertwine into a complex web of deceit, fantastical probabilities, and a touch of sci-fi. The scenes are well depicted and the characters are unique and unlike any I have met before. This was a creative story that will draw you in and keep you guessing. If you like noir detective stories you will likely enjoy this story despite the zombie theme. I found it entertaining and hope Braineater Jones can keep himself from decomposing long enough to make this a long series.   


Stephen Kozeniewski places this warning at the beginning of his story. “This book contains the sort of racist, sexist, and bigoted characters that were commonplace to the era in which it takes place.”

It also contains other adult language that may be offensive to some.

There is a glossary at the end of the book for the slang and jargon used from the 1930s, which I appreciated because I really didn’t have a clue what ginchy meant.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant errors

Rating: **** Four stars

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Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Thank you for taking the time to review my book!

?wazithinkin said...

Thank you for dropping by, Mr Kozeniewski. I enjoyed your take on zombies. :)