Click here to read reviewer Brenda A. Snodgrass's take on Chasing the Dead.
I selected this title expecting a thriller, but as the story evolves, so does the horror. The title is Chasing the Dead, but apparently it was too subtle for me. In any case, the drama begins in 1983 Massachusetts, when a boy and girl share an afternoon that will haunt their adult lives, the terrible choice they make impossible to relegate to the past.
Years later, married to Phillip, her childhood friend, Susan Young is navigating the difficult waters of single parenthood, their baby, one-year-old Veda, now her responsibility. After months of nightmares that leave him shaking, Phillip suddenly disappears with no explanation. Sue copes as best she can.
Returning home from work one evening, the babysitter calls to say she will meet Sue at the house after picking up a pizza. Sue arrives home, no one there to greet her. The phone rings, a male voice whispering, “You have a lovely little girl, Susan.”
Instructed to follow explicit directions through a maze of towns within the next twelve hours if she hopes to ever see Veda alive again, Susan begins a fright-filled night of unimaginable horrors, best left to the imagination and a salivating Vincent Price.
Unfortunately, although the author keeps the unholy scares rolling, the story descends into B-movie territory, her shocking adventures with the undead Susan’s introduction to the consequences of childhood decisions.
In one town after another, Sue is confronted with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of attackers, some of whom are familiar faces, others having been around for centuries. Stunned by this otherworldly adventure, Sue nearly folds under the weight of what she is asked to do, the only thing keeping her on track the thought of saving her baby.
There are few true masters of this genre, writers who invite a reader to suspend belief in the real world and dabble in the dark halls of the netherworld. While Stephen King and Dean Koontz are particular favorites for material of this nature, Schreiber gives it his best but fails to ignite my imagination. Maybe I cut my teeth on too many zombie movies, but this landscape is a caricature of the undead, including Sue’s unwitting transportation of “a cargo of corpses.”
Somewhere along the highway, reason slips beyond retrieval, Sue barely able to stagger to the denouement or savor her victory over the dark forces that have stolen her child. Gasping with fear after a sweat-drenched nightmare, the past may be the past, Veda sleeping peacefully by her side, but we all know the fate of the undead… they never die. I expect Sue will understand this problem in days to come. In this macabre adventure only the zombies come out alive… or undead.