Zombie Western – Book #2 – Undead Man’s Hand Preview

Hey 3.5 Readers. Since I expect to have Book 1 done soon and will probably jump into a draft of Book 2 for a little while before performing a major rewrite of Book 1, I’d be curious to know whether or not you like the direction I’ll be going in Book 2 – “Undead Man’s Hand.”

It’s part prequel as there are characters who learn a zombie apocalypse is coming. Given the results of Book 1, they obviously fail to convince anyone to do anything about it.

But post Western zombie apocalypse, there will be quite a Calamity Jane vs. Zombies vs. Zombie Wild Bill Hickok showdown.  That part of the book will be a sequel.

So it is half prequel, half sequel.

My idea for this book is basically what steered me in the direction of introducing the Legion Corporation in the first book.  Initially, Zombed was going to be a stand alone in which Doc just turned everyone into zombies by feeding them too much cocaine.

Give me your input, 3.5

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Deadwood, Dakota Territory. 1876.

James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok is one of a young nation’s earliest celebrities, having found fame and fortune as a notorious gunslinger.

Historians have long maintained that Hickok’s life came to an abrupt end when the coward Jack McCall stormed into a saloon and shot Hickok in the back, a bitter resolution to a dispute over a poker game gone awry.

Aces over eights. Many a so-called expert has claimed that Hickok was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights when he died. Thus, the “Dead Man’s Hand” has long been considered the unluckiest hand in the game of poker, a foreshadowing of impending doom for anyone who draws it.

In truth, Hickok, in secret, was a prolific vampire hunter. While the public was aware of the dangerous human desperadoes he put six feet under, he kept his fight against the fanged to himself for quite some time.

But upon learning of a plot by the Legion Corporation, an evil railroad company overseen by America’s most vicious vampires, to conquer the United States, Hickok finds it necessary to seek the assistance of his two closest confidantes, female gunfighter Martha “Calamity Jane” Cannary and straight-laced businessman Charlie Utter.

Alas, before Hickok is able to share much of his secret, the villainous vampire Lady Blackwood (name probably to be changed) glamours McCall into shooting Hickok in the back in order to protect the truth about the Legion Corporation’s true purpose from coming to light.

But it doesn’t go as she planned, for witnesses on the scene were mistaken about the hand that Hickok had been holding. It wasn’t aces over eights but rather eight aces, each card printed with a drawing of a different member of Legion’s board of directors.

Jane has her own personal demons, an addiction to alcohol and a colorful vocabulary among them. But her loyalty to her mentor sends her on a quest to warn various Western lawmen of the impending zombie apocalypse, from Deadwood’s own Sheriff Seth Bullock to Marshal Wyatt Earp himself.

Will Utter join her crusade and give Jane’s incredible tales of vampires and zombies the credibility they need? Or will he ignore it all and retreat to the orderly, proper life he prefers?

Even worse, when Hickok’s body goes missing, and a masked man reminiscent of Hickok goes on a bank robbing spree across country, it becomes clear that Lady Blackwood has turned the West’s greatest hero into her own personal zombie puppet.

Thus, Jane is forced with the grim duty of having to put to rest the body of the man who believed in her when no one else would.

It all leads to an epic showdown in Deadwood, a lawless gold rush mining camp turned makeshift town filled with cutthroats, liars, cheats, scoundrels, and even worse, politicians.

Several of Deadwood’s most prominent (and unsavory) residents will stop by, including the aptly named Al Swearengen.  Saloon keeper and one of North America’s first organized crime bosses, Al may or may not be playing both sides against each other for his own personal profit.

It’s going to be awesome and you should totally give Bookshelf Q. Battler your money.

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