After failed attempts at creating new lives after several years in prison, Mangle, Decker, and Tazeem join together to scam businesses by posing as men from an electric company. Their exploits lead them to stumble upon an enormous sex-trafficking organization, but even after gaining access to the exclusive “Zombie Room” club, they still aren’t aware of how much danger they’re getting themselves into. Motivated by the death of a family member and the glazed-over eyes of Tatiana, who was bought by the sex-traffickers after a horrific event, the three men pull all the stops to free the girls and stop the organization.
The complex inner-workings of the criminal underworld are the main focus of this novel, and I often felt myself wishing to know more about the characters, to feel more about their situation. The first third of the book is devoted to exploring Mangle, Decker, and Tazeem’s history—how they ended up in prison and how they formed such a dynamic friendship—as well as Tatiana’s. R.D. Ronald would perhaps benefit from the advice of Kurt Vonnegut: “Start as close to the end as possible.” While the backstories presented here are useful, they slow the story down, and most of the information could be "shown" rather than "told." Once the action picked up speed after the men were released from prison, the plot became more concrete and the action more intense. However, even in knowing each character’s backstory, it was difficult to get a firm grasp of their motivations, desires, and fears.
The Zombie Room has an intelligent premise, but it could have been better executed: there is poor editing in many places. Fans of crime thrillers and gore will enjoy it, as long as they aren’t the type to get hung up on grammar distractions and characters who personalities take a back seat when the plot comes to the forefront.
The book trailer for The Zombie Room has won many awards, and it is worth sharing: