I've read my share of horror novels. It's mainly all that I read. I'm the type of reader that gives what I'm reading cinematic detailing in my head as I read it, and I have never had so much ease and fun while doing this as I had with Dead City.
Joe McKinney captured the true essence of what makes a good zombie tale. You have your usual substance of gore, relentless crowds of zombies, the apocalyptic world, and so on. But what truly made the book was the depth and power McKinney put behind his main character, Eddie Hudson. Eddie was just a regular guy working his late-night shift as a police officer when all hell broke lose in his life. The book tells the story of Eddie as he fights for his life, accompanies many side characters, and struggles to reach his wife and 6 month old son.
What was also interesting is the reasoning that McKinney gave to the dead coming back to life. That being that a recent string of hurricanes randomly exposing a virus to the Gulf Coast. Simple. Also, the characters in the book question the zombie genre themselves. From Eddie's first assumption of the reanimated dead being zombies, him uttering the word "zombie" for the first time, a character in the book being a zombie chatroom discussionist, and other side-notes about the existence of zombies.
One negative note about the book is its ending. It was a little too formulaic for me. Up until the last 3 chapters, McKinney didn't really go against zombie movie formula. He would introduce characters, make you get involved with them, only to have their limbs ripped off a few chapters later. When it came to the end - although what you were rooting for occurs - it becomes just a little too formulaic. But it's not really something I should gripe about when comparing it to the brilliance that is the rest of the book.
Joe McKinney has a great sense of writing and character development, and I really can't wait to see what he terrifies us with next.