Book Review: Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead by David James Keaton

“Much to appreciate and enjoy in this collection of humorous tales.”

propeller hatsJust when you think that the zombie trope has been done to death, a fresh voice arrives to once more propel it along. Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead by David James Keaton showcases one such voice. From the stories contained within it is obvious that the author is serious about his love of everything zombie but the stories themselves are anything but serious, displaying as they do a wicked and acutely observed vein of humour.

Opening story ‘Greenhorns’ sets the tone for the collection with a tale of students competing for a place upon a fishing boat that features in a reality television show, and also establishes the world in which the majority of the stories take place. A world in which the zombie apocalypse has already occurred and people have learned to adapt accordingly.

Another entertaining story follows in ‘…and I’ll Scratch Yours (or The One Who Had None)’ which just about manages to make its premise of people utilising the limbs of zombies as back scratchers believable to produce a funny and creepy story with a truly brilliant final image.

The standout story of the book, which contributes to the title of the collection, ‘Zee Bee & Bee (a.k.a. Propeller Hats for the Dead)’ is on the face of it a tale concerned with the camaraderie often developed amongst youths working in a low-paying job. There’s much more going on here though and by the end you’ll be nodding away and chuckling at the audacity of it.

Other notable stories include ‘The Ball Pit (or Children Under 5 Eat Free!) which is rather a gross tale you’ll want to read on an empty stomach, the frantic day in the life of a pair of paramedics that feature in ‘The Doppelganger Radar’ and in a story that will outrage those readers of a more delicate disposition ‘What’s Worse’ which starts with a dead baby on the roadside and only gets ever grimmer. It’s the sign of a good writer when they can make a story readable with such a disturbing subject matter and this one brought to mind ‘Stuck on You’ by Jasper Bark; another writer with the skill to pull off the outrageous with aplomb.

There is probably nothing here that would change the mind of those for whom Zombie fiction would be their last literary resort after dinosaur porn but for anyone with even a passing interest in the fiction of the undead will find much to appreciate and enjoy in this collection of humorous tales.


Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing
eBook (256pp)
Release Date: 30 September 2015

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