The Return Man

  • by V. M. Zito
  • Narrated by Bernard Clark
  • 14 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The outbreak tore the US in two. The East remains a safe haven. The West has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.
Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other: He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.
But in the wastelands of America, you never know who - or what - is watching you.

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What the Critics Say

"Thrilling, melancholy, and stomach-churningly gory... This is a sturdy and crowd-pleasing novel that squarely hits its target." (Publishers Weekly)
"A hair-raising quest ... Zito expertly piles on thrills, cliffhangers and numerous twists ..." (The Guardian, UK)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

wtf a zombie assassin? yes, but much more!

Any additional comments?

wow! 2 great zombie books in a row! hissers and the return man. i know i'm supposed to be reviewing the return man, but i'm pumped having just listened to 2 great zombie books in a row! i thought i'd listened to all the best zombie books on audible, BUT I WAS WRONG!

ok...don't let the title throw you. the return man is a story about henry marko. the story picks up 4 years after the zombie outbreak. marko is "the return man." he is a zombie assassin. yes, that may sound hokey, but give me a second.

before the zombie apocylapse, marko was a neurologist. he has developed a theory that helps him track down where zombies might be so he can "return" them to being dead. his theory is known as emotional geography. marko realizes the zombies tend to go places where they have emotional contacts. this aids him in finding the zombies he's contracted to "return" to the dead

everything west of the mississippi river has been abandoned. marko lives in the unprotected part of america. he is a contractor. people living in the safe states (protected zone) contract him to find their loved ones. if they've become zombies, he is contracted to "return" them to being dead so their survivors can get a sense of closure and start over. marko is also looking for his wife, to "return" her. he has tricked out his house with barricades and traps. he hopes to trap his wife so he can "return" her.

the story starts out with marko working on the rourke contract. marko is looking for joan's husband. after the contract is fulfilled he contacts ben, his contact and brother-in-law in the safe states that finds him clients. during that conversation, a guy named osbourne breaks in, revealing himself to be in the room with ben. osbourne threatens and forces marko to return to california to "return" a friend and former colleague, dr. roger ballard.

osbourne shows marko a video of dr. ballard's last location, a prison, where he is seen leaping off a catwalk to escape a horde of zombie prisoners. osbourne wants marko to return to this prison to "return" the good doctor to the dead. to help marko accomplish his task, osbourne sends a resurrection group to aid him. along the trek west, marko is joined by sgt. wu, who has his own motivations. together, they battle zombies and the four horseman, a large group of survivors who control california and have ties with drug dealers and the u.s. government's enemies.

the story is kind of predictable, but what i really enjoyed was the all the zombie action. this book has a lot of heart-pounding zombie horde fighting scenes with lots and lots of well-described gore. overall, a solid addition to your zombie libray, and a great thrill ride!

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- Mike Naka

What an Ironic name...story falls short.

What would have made The Return Man better?

If it avoided the cliche treason-in-your-midst plot trying to weave the noir detective with LMOE. Lone man in the land of walking corpses? Make it survival with the goal of safety. I caught the political tirade, but wasn't put off by it. seems ill conceived that we'd just be content to draw a line in the sand (Mississippi River), hunker down and pretend the other side isn't there. Meanwhile, in a non-existent economy, folks pay bundles to have a guy seek out dead loved ones and put 'em down? I know it's a zombie story, so some belief-suspension is required, but there needs to be a limit.


What was most disappointing about V. M. Zito’s story?

Like a mish-mash of Rot & Ruin and The Tomb. The plot did little to capture my attention. Sounded like a neat idea, "zombie assassin", but missed. Survival stories make more sense. A better spin on this idea was Rot & Ruin: more depth of feeling and an overall better story.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bernard Clark?

He was ok. Accents were good.


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Boredom...disappointment. Miffed that audible wont let me return it.


Any additional comments?

Ironic that despite Audible's claimed guarantee, I cannot return "The Return Man." Stick with Mark Tufo, J L Bourne, Max Brooks, Jonathan Mayberry and Larry Correia. Listened to a few stinkers recently, always fall back on the aforementioned writers for satisfaction.

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- abacus6

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-01-2012
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio