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The Return Man | [V. M. Zito]

The Return Man

The outbreak tore the US in two. The East remains a safe haven. The West has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace. Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other: He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.
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Publisher's Summary

The outbreak tore the US in two. The East remains a safe haven. The West has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other: He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.

But in the wastelands of America, you never know who - or what - is watching you.

©2012 V. M. Zito (P)2012 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

"Thrilling, melancholy, and stomach-churningly gory... This is a sturdy and crowd-pleasing novel that squarely hits its target." (Publishers Weekly)

"A hair-raising quest ... Zito expertly piles on thrills, cliffhangers and numerous twists ..." (The Guardian, UK)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (114 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.9 (109 )
5 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (106 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Mike Naka 09-01-12
    Mike Naka 09-01-12 Member Since 2012

    Avid Zombie fan who's starting to listen to more and more Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories. So, my description is apt to change. Dog lover who's known to have cats. LOL C# coder, part-time prepper, B movie fan, AMC watcher, recovering but successful day trader, perpetual student, overjoyed uncle, former adrenaline junkie with a flare for cooking, and lots more. LOL

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "wtf a zombie assassin? yes, but much more!"
    Any additional comments?

    wow! 2 great zombie books in a row! hissers and the return man. i know i'm supposed to be reviewing the return man, but i'm pumped having just listened to 2 great zombie books in a row! i thought i'd listened to all the best zombie books on audible, BUT I WAS WRONG!

    ok...don't let the title throw you. the return man is a story about henry marko. the story picks up 4 years after the zombie outbreak. marko is "the return man." he is a zombie assassin. yes, that may sound hokey, but give me a second.

    before the zombie apocylapse, marko was a neurologist. he has developed a theory that helps him track down where zombies might be so he can "return" them to being dead. his theory is known as emotional geography. marko realizes the zombies tend to go places where they have emotional contacts. this aids him in finding the zombies he's contracted to "return" to the dead

    everything west of the mississippi river has been abandoned. marko lives in the unprotected part of america. he is a contractor. people living in the safe states (protected zone) contract him to find their loved ones. if they've become zombies, he is contracted to "return" them to being dead so their survivors can get a sense of closure and start over. marko is also looking for his wife, to "return" her. he has tricked out his house with barricades and traps. he hopes to trap his wife so he can "return" her.

    the story starts out with marko working on the rourke contract. marko is looking for joan's husband. after the contract is fulfilled he contacts ben, his contact and brother-in-law in the safe states that finds him clients. during that conversation, a guy named osbourne breaks in, revealing himself to be in the room with ben. osbourne threatens and forces marko to return to california to "return" a friend and former colleague, dr. roger ballard.

    osbourne shows marko a video of dr. ballard's last location, a prison, where he is seen leaping off a catwalk to escape a horde of zombie prisoners. osbourne wants marko to return to this prison to "return" the good doctor to the dead. to help marko accomplish his task, osbourne sends a resurrection group to aid him. along the trek west, marko is joined by sgt. wu, who has his own motivations. together, they battle zombies and the four horseman, a large group of survivors who control california and have ties with drug dealers and the u.s. government's enemies.

    the story is kind of predictable, but what i really enjoyed was the all the zombie action. this book has a lot of heart-pounding zombie horde fighting scenes with lots and lots of well-described gore. overall, a solid addition to your zombie libray, and a great thrill ride!

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    abacus6 07-28-13
    abacus6 07-28-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What an Ironic name...story falls short."
    What would have made The Return Man better?

    If it avoided the cliche treason-in-your-midst plot trying to weave the noir detective with LMOE. Lone man in the land of walking corpses? Make it survival with the goal of safety. I caught the political tirade, but wasn't put off by it. seems ill conceived that we'd just be content to draw a line in the sand (Mississippi River), hunker down and pretend the other side isn't there. Meanwhile, in a non-existent economy, folks pay bundles to have a guy seek out dead loved ones and put 'em down? I know it's a zombie story, so some belief-suspension is required, but there needs to be a limit.


    What was most disappointing about V. M. Zito’s story?

    Like a mish-mash of Rot & Ruin and The Tomb. The plot did little to capture my attention. Sounded like a neat idea, "zombie assassin", but missed. Survival stories make more sense. A better spin on this idea was Rot & Ruin: more depth of feeling and an overall better story.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bernard Clark?

    He was ok. Accents were good.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boredom...disappointment. Miffed that audible wont let me return it.


    Any additional comments?

    Ironic that despite Audible's claimed guarantee, I cannot return "The Return Man." Stick with Mark Tufo, J L Bourne, Max Brooks, Jonathan Mayberry and Larry Correia. Listened to a few stinkers recently, always fall back on the aforementioned writers for satisfaction.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Drew (@drewsant) Watertown, MA, United States 05-13-13
    Drew (@drewsant) Watertown, MA, United States 05-13-13 Member Since 2009

    Post apocalyptic listener with some thrillers mixed in. Follow me on twitter at @drewsant

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    "A good balance between action and character dev"

    The Return Man takes you on a trip through the bad lands which used to be part of the USA but has been ceded to the Zombies. The main character is likable but has his own flaws and demons which he must overcome. The story does a good job of balancing character development with action and mystery which keeps you engrossed in the telling. The author does have a habit of using metaphors to describe the scene (Flowing like water from a spigot) which seems a bit gimmicky to me, but doesn’t really take away from the story. Certainly not what I would call a happy ending, it certainly wraps it all up and even leaves room for another book if the author chooses.

    The Performance was a bit lacking. When not doing dialog Mr. Clark was dry and monitone. When interacting with the characters he was really good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SYLVIA Houston, tx, United States 07-14-12
    SYLVIA Houston, tx, United States 07-14-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "First rate apocalyptic fiction"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Return Man to be better than the print version?

    haven't read the book


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    non stop action with heart wrenching emotion


    Which character – as performed by Bernard Clark – was your favorite?

    excellent narration


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    hard to put down.


    Any additional comments?

    this was an excellent story rich in scope and full of emotion

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carlos missouri 05-11-13
    carlos missouri 05-11-13 Member Since 2012

    More cheese!

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    "When liberals write zombie novels..."

    Hilarity ensues. Cliches and logical fallacies abound! But what are you going to do? I actually liked this novel...a lot. It was all the old tired cliches about a certain political party that made this novel comical in places. Thankfully, it was mainly at the beginning.

    I actually laughed out loud at some of the silly caricatures the author painted of the "evil" party, which she/he put "New" in front of to make it look as if it was some new really really really nefarious party, but was soooo obvious whom she/he was referring to. It grew tiresome quickly. And when she/he brought in the fake "crisis" that the party was inventing, I nearly choked on the irony, considering today's Chicken Little president.

    But alas, the story itself was great! Good character development, good concept (zombie assassin), lots of action and plenty of zombies. The Chinaman was a great way for her/him to show how much she/he loathed this country. Everything the Chinaman believed and said could have been a talking point from the a certain political party today--guess which one. Notice that nothing that character did was considered "bad." Even his religion was better than anything a silly Westerner put faith in, as we saw in the end. Yawn.

    I digress. Again, great story just wished the silliness wasn't so obvious, I would have given it a 5...I was aching to do so. As it turns out, "The Infection" is still my top zombie novel pick.

    8 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erik Sooke, British Columbia, Canada 12-14-14
    Erik Sooke, British Columbia, Canada 12-14-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Can't believe this isn't a video game!"

    Yet another Zombie novel. That's OK, because I like the genre when I'm in the mood for some light reading. This one fit the bill nicely.

    This book didn't revolutionize the gene in any way, but it did provide some interesting ideas on post zombie society and how one survivor continued. As with many US stories, I always cringe when the story is exclusively American. Really, an outbreak of this magnitude is contained to the USA and stops at the Mexican and Canadian borders? As I said, it's entertaining, but not brilliant.

    The narration was well done, and enhanced the story. In fact, with the narration making the story a bit better than it ought to be, I couldn't help thinking that taking it one step further and making it into a video game would make the story even better.

    I can recommend this book if you like the zombie genre and aren't expecting too much. It entertained me, but it certainly didn't give me any "wow" moments.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tilo 11-14-14
    Tilo 11-14-14 Member Since 2011

    Zombies Books in order: 1. We're Alive 2. Day By Day Armageddon 3. Roads Less Traveled Series 4. Alaskan Undead Apocalypse 5. World War Z 6. The Walking Dead 7. Rise Again 8. As the World Dies 9. Zombie Fallout

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Yes, zombie assasin is hokey"

    Over all the story is pretty good, but you have to get over this silly idea that you can find a zombie among the millions out there so their bereaved kin can get closure. There is an explanation for that, but I still find it difficult to get past. You see, these zombies aren't entirely dumb, just a tiny vestige of their past life-force is left, especially in the beginning they always got a "surprised" look during the action sequences.

    The first (few) chapters were the most difficult to get past. I mean Henry Marko is supposed to have been doing this for years, but it doesn't look it. I'll reveal just a tiny bit of it in the next paragraph:

    So he finds his lonesome target, and instead of just walking up to it, popping it in the head, he snipes at it, timing it so poorly it falls into a river and floats away. The strange bungling that happens afterwards just had be frowning and rolling my eyes. A few chapters down, I had to reading about how this character, seemingly out of the game "assassins creed", cartwheels and kicks a "bleached blonde" marine in the head. Right there I wanted to return the book. Not only that there is a marine who bleaches his hair during a zombipocalyse, but he died by human cartwheel.

    But ok, I managed to get through that to read a very good action road trip type of story. There was depth to the story, but I still found it a bit too shallow, perhaps because the lack of characters (basically two). Marko's character has actually a very powerful back story behind it, about his wife and family and I really enjoyed reading about it, but these parts were very few.

    Some reviewers have complained about references to the republican party, and the author probably should have just made up a new name, I found these references to be very fleeting and only at the start.

    The narrator did a good job, but I found Wu's and Osbournes nasal voices to be very similar.

    Over all, still a very good book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Corona, CALIFORNIA, United States 01-14-14
    Lee Corona, CALIFORNIA, United States 01-14-14

    I love horror books.

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    "A must read of zombie lovers"
    What made the experience of listening to The Return Man the most enjoyable?

    The narrator did a great job with the voices of the different characters. He has a voice that keeps you on the edge of your seat.


    What other book might you compare The Return Man to and why?

    There aren't any other books that I would compare it too.


    Have you listened to any of Bernard Clark’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I don't remember listening to any of his other books


    Who was the most memorable character of The Return Man and why?

    The main character


    Any additional comments?

    This book was a refreshing change to the other zombie books I have been listening. I really enjoyed the entire book. It was easy to listen too. The author did an awesome job with the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deedeeg gilbert, AZ, United States 06-27-13
    deedeeg gilbert, AZ, United States 06-27-13 Member Since 2010

    deedeeg

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    "Not your typical zombie book"

    This story is very detailed, and while it is about zombies, it is not your typical zombie read. Without giving much away, I would say it's a mixture of zombies, survival and mystery. There are a lot of gruesome details included here, so much so, I definitely thought it was overkill. The narrator pretty much uses the same tone throughout the entire story, and tells the entire tale at the same pace, which is something that I don't really care for when I am listening, vs. reading. There has got to be a sequel, and I don't feel compelled to continue to the next installment, so I will end here saying, that I was a bit underwhelmed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    victoria Washington, DC, United States 03-14-13
    victoria Washington, DC, United States 03-14-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Four Star Zombie Listen"

    Most zombie books are variations on a theme. Return Man has many of the next generation elements - the compassionate zombie hunter (a la The Last Mail Man), living in the Dead Zone, is sent on a mission to the origin of the apocalypse to find a key scientist. The story has flaws, but it is well written and the main protagonist, Henry Marco, is complex and compelling. While I wasn't immediately drawn to the narrator, he grew on me. I painted my entire bedroom to justify a continuous listen to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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