It’s been almost two years since the release of a new Greg
Rucka thriller. It’s not as if he’s been idle; Rucka is
active in the comic book world, currently writing Action
Comics for DC. We last saw him in novel form, however, in
2007’s PATRIOT ACTS, which continued his Atticus Kodiak
series. WALKING DEAD, his latest work, also stars Atticus, and
it’s a fine addition.
Rucka is in pulse-pounding form here, combining an addictive
narrative with a riveting storyline to create what may well be his
best book to date in the Kodiak mythos. WALKING DEAD opens with
Atticus and his lover, Alena, living in Kobuleti, Georgia. As
Atticus describes it, Kobuleti is a place where people go to hide,
and indeed, that is precisely what Atticus and Alena are doing.
Their neighbors, the Lagidze family, appear to be doing the same
thing, and the two households maintain a cordial but respectful
distance from each other, with the primary contact between them
consisting of dance lessons provided by Alena to Tiasa, the
Lagidzes’ 14-year-old daughter.
All of that changes suddenly and irrevocably when the Lagidze
family is slaughtered in the dead of night and Tiasa is abducted.
The plot from thereon is simple: Atticus moves heaven and earth and
attempts to find Tiasa and bring her back. What does he do?
Everything. What does he expend? Everything. What does he
sacrifice? Money, body, and a part of his soul.
Tiasa, he quickly discovers, is in the hands of people who are
the embodiment, the manifestation, of an evil so dastardly that
there is no justice appropriate for it other than the ultimate one
that Atticus, for the most part, dispenses as he follows a trail
that grows cold within a matter of hours and seemingly impossible
to track with each passing day. It is one that will take him from
the former Soviet bloc to Dubai, from Turkey to New York, from
Ireland to Las Vegas, trailing an opponent who is fully prepared
If you thought you knew Atticus before, think again: he has
never been so focused, so driven, so formidable. Yet Rucka instills
within him a humanity, a goodness, and a fragility, if you will,
that we don’t always find in fictional heroes. Atticus gets
banged up here, sustaining damage that he almost can’t walk
away from, and it takes its toll as the novel progresses. But he
has much to live for, including a bombshell that relieves some of
the unrelenting grimness of what he encounters.
Rucka is possessed of a fine sense of irony steeled with
tension, one that is infused into WALKING DEAD from first page to
last. You’ll have this book open for so long at one sitting
that you will feel as if it is bound with a coiled spring until you
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011