Denver’s self made writing daredevils Meyers and Pedas strike again with Dead and Moaning in Las Vegas, available now to be ordered online and from your favorite local booksellers, including Mutiny Information Café, a humor novel of the zombie apocalypse. Its title is a takeoff of the famous work by notorious crazeball Hunter S. Thompson, its apparent motivation to take advantage of the mass American craze for zombies that’s been happening since about the middle of the last century, thus adding new velocity to that meme with their own post-apocalyptic slash comedic sensibilities. Are you with me so far? Let me go a step further and say that the references to Vegas standards such as Elvis himself and his progeny, the Impersonators, plus classic high rolling movie icons like the mafia connected Rat Pack, including that poor devil, Sammy Davis, Jr., only add to the beautiful chaotic plastic meltdown of American kitsch pop roulette spin. Dead and Moaning in Las Vegas is a laugh a minute, beginning with their introduction of a foil named Scooter Bartlett by saying he never believed in the “domino effect,” then laying out the chain of previous collapses which had led him to Sin City and the Strip, never missing a beat.
These two collaborators are the cofounders and administrators of a website called A Beer for the Shower and have authored other books previously reviewed in this column, both separately and as a team. As an outsider, this reporter can only guess at the nature of their collaboration, which of the two is responsible for which quality of which work. It’s a sort of guessing game. Both Pedas’ Demetri and the Banana-Flavored Rocketship and Meyers’ short story collection, Chasing the Sandman are delivered with regal erudition of tone, while previous Meyers/Pedas collaborations, The Sensationally Absurd Life and Times of Slim Dyson and The Missing Link have a looser delivery, particularly so in the latter case. That said, Dead and Moaning in Las Vegas reminded me immediately of Demetri, one of the greatest new novels I’ve read in a while, before proceeding into an entirely new direction of its own devising.
Much of the action is fueled by established tropes (zombies, Las Vegas, Elvis, the Rat Pack etc.), but when Meyers’ and Pedas’ collective wit is brought to bear on these chestnuts, it works wonderfully. Notwithstanding humor-packed situations like the escalator ride to hell, odd or mad characters, some of them zombies, and consequent unhinged or out-of-range dialogue, the story lets you look at society from inside a zombie an interesting perspective, too often ignored or left unspoken in today’s modern world.. Casinos in Vegas don’t know what to do when zombies attack, there’s nothing in the security guard’s or society’s manual. When this happens, an Elvis impersonator joins forces with an alcoholic janitor bursting with drunken hijinks, dodging the flung blood and brains and bruising their eggshell false egos to rescue themselves and Las Vegas from supernatural destruction. Expect more from this duo. They know how to write.