on 26 April 2013
A return to more like the form of Patient Zero in this latest outing for Joe Ledger & the DMS as opposed to King of Plagues & Dragon Factory. Fast pace, unrelenting action, wierd science, vile villains and goods guys sometimes just as scary. As other reviewers point out, you will get a lot more out of this book if you have read the others in the series, as elements of the plot carry or remain unresolved, and the world view, with science rationalised supernatural elements is the same.
Joe Ledger still retains his black sense of humour along with his multiple personalities & devotion to martial arts. The relaionship with Ghost, his canine companion, gives a centre to a charactor that has to endure a lot (again). Plot elements that remain consistent are the deaths of characters we love or hate from previous books, charecter development of the 'regulars' and enough uncertainty to leave you wanting more along with the resolution.
You will enjoy this book if you liked the others in the series & enjoy fast paced remotely technically plausble imaginative thrillers where the world is in danger agaist overwhelming odds.
on 13 February 2013
Having your lead role with dysfunctional multi persona characteristics may seem like its been done before.
However, Maberry continues the Joe Ledger series with all the imagination and page turning gusto as the previous encounters.
I like the way Maberry takes the classic horror fiction, zombies, vampires etc, and entwine them into a contemporary environment where be it terrorism or megalomania is the real enemy.
Sure, our hero has a kill ratio to make a guided missile envious, but his character is explored in his self internal and emotional conflicts.
That may all seem a little high and mighty so in simple terms.......
It's a heck of a read for action fans!
Can't wait for Extintion Machine
Keep it up Jonathan!!!!
The first thing I have to point out is that "Assassins Code" is the fourth in this devourable series so if you haven't read the others then type in "Patient Zero" immediately and buy it! However, if you're already on the DMS band-wagon then you'll be glad to know that Joe is back with another monster who wants a piece of him.
So you might remember from the previous books that Joe and Echo team (Top, Bunny and co) have had a hell of a year fighting zombies, genetically messed up siblings and every other terrorist out to destroy the world but this time it's the stuff of nightmares that he has to deal with - and I'm not just talking about the nuclear bombs planted all of the world waiting to go Kaboom!
Now I say you "might remember" because if you can't remember what happened in the previous books I'd recommend you go back and read them (or at the very least read the previous one). I say this because I started to read "Assassins Code" and things were being said that I could ALMOST remember but I just had that niggling feeling that I'd be missing important bits if I didn't go back and read the others. BUT, I was stubborn and continued reading (mostly because I couldn't tear myself away from it) and I slowly, and I mean sloooowly, began to remember things.
So with all that said, you want to know what Joe's up against this time right? Well you won't be disappointed. Personally I loved "Patient Zero", Joe's first mission fighting zombies, and since then I haven't really found the remaining two books to be quite as good - although they were close. Now with the addition of vampires (and not quite the traditional ones) it's up to Joe, and us, to figure out if we really believe they can be real. Are the myths just a deterrent to scare us off? Are they genetically engineered to look this way? Or are they born like that? Well that's up to you to find out but there's just a taster of the questions Maberry has in store this time around.
So what about Joe? Is he still the same sarcastic smart-mouth guy we've all come to love? Kind of...and this is what left me a little disappointed to begin with. Don't get me wrong, he still cracks me up frequently but the first quarter of the book was a bit slow. Nevertheless, after that portion of the book he comes back in full force and actually, given the kind of year we're led to believe he's had it's not surprising he's a bit unstable. My favourite thing about Joe is his ability to be funny in even the most frightening situations - not sure I'd be insulting a fanged attacker but that's another story all together.
But it's not just Joe who sells these books for me, the additional characters are brilliant. This time we have the same recurring characters as before including Church (or any of the remaining code names he goes by), Circe (his insanely smart daughter), Rudy (Joe's psychiatrist best friend) and not to mention Ghost (everyone's favourite white dog). But we also meet a few new characters, most notably Violin - or at least that's what we think her name is. Now she IS in an interesting character but you'll have to find out why for yourself! Of course, we musn't get too attached to some of our favourites and this book is riddled with murders.
So other than the slightly unavoidable decline in Joe's mental state (which admittedly adds to his backstory and makes him a more complex character) I couldn't find many faults. I will say though, and this is the reason for my four stars, this books took quite a bit of getting into. The first few chapters were ridiculously good but once we hit some of the interludes which date quite far back I began to lose interest a bit and wanted to get back to Joe. I'm not sure I would put this up there with "Patient Zero" but it's still brilliant, you should still read it and if I haven't managed to convince you yet then read the opening lines:
"She said, "Look down at your chest".
I held the cell phone to my ear as I bent my head. Two red dots, quivering slightly, danced right over my heart.
"You are one second away from death" said the caller."
Let it never be said that Maberry can't drag you into a book with his opening lines - after all, it's the reason most of us picked up "Patient Zero" in the first place. Get yourself a copy, it's worth it. Hope this helps.
on 18 May 2012
I first caught Jonathan Maberry when I bought Patient Zero on a whim a couple of years back. Basic story was that lunatic terrorists were creating a zombie plague (of sorts), and a hastily-assembled tactical team attempted to take them out. In the course of the book, we were introduced to key characters Joe Ledger (our protagonist), Ghost (his dog), Rudy (his friend and therapist), Echo Team (the hastily-assembled tactical team), DMS (the covert agency responsible for dealing with situations like this), and Mr Church (the boss of DMS).
I've never been a huge fan of the military operation books. Andy McNab does not grace my bookshelves (although I have the utmost respect for him). Zombie books do, although I'm not a hardcore obsessive. So, taking a chance, I tried a new author (something I do every now and then, usually when I've exhausted whichever author currently has me hooked. Most recently, Preston and Child. But that's another story). I was, very pleasantly, surprised. Ledger turned out to be an engaging character, with the sense of (often inappropriate) humour which tickled me. That same sense of humour helps drastically in cutting through what could be a fairly ridiculous situation. Thoroughly recommended.
Anyway, following the initial Patient Zero came Dragon Factory and The King of Plagues. Each with their own new challenges for the developing Echo Team. Relationships and friendships built. Challenges were faced, adversities overcome, and each would make a fine standalone adventure. But, building behind the scenes, a bigger story started to emerge. A shadowy organisation (of Kings) bent on twisting the world for their own purposes. And lurking in the shadows, given nothing more than a throwaway moment, someone else.
Which brings us to Assassin's Code. The theme of each of the books so far has been to take a genetically-modified twist on some classics - zombies, dragons, etc. This time we're treated to vampires, in the name of terrorism. Being only the fourth book in the series, this is still early enough to feel fresh, and gives a nice little take on the vampire mythos. Some familiar characters reappear, to greater and lesser degrees. And there's the usual mix of excitement, adventure, action and suffering. Maberry has a nice touch when writing action and fight scenes - enough technical info to feel interesting, without overloading. Echo Team, at this point, have their core membership and their new members (which seems to be a now standard format in the books), and as with the previous titles, no one is safe. Knowing that Maberry is not afraid to kill off established or new characters lends a nice sense of risk to every scene. (And yes, two of those deaths are brutal and upsetting. I will miss those characters.)
Joe continues to evolve, and from the initial Echo Team encounter spends a good half of the book working in isolation from his teammates, accompanied only by Ghost - although relations between the two end up a little strained. Joe's backstory is expanded on a little more - the history of what led to his psyche fracturing a little, and it's nice to see that he hasn't immediately moved on from loves lost. I find Joe to be a surprisingly engaging lead, rooting for him in action, and more than once laughing at his snarkiness. His interactions with his team, Ghost, adversaries, superiors, and a potential new... partner, continue to delight. The overall story contains vamps, genetics, a race to find nuclear bombs, and a few other things which would be implausible in lesser hands (can you tell that I'm trying to avoid spoilers here?). Which makes for an ideal story.
However, it's the behind-the-scenes action which raises the interest another notch. After the introduction of the Kings earlier, I suspect a pattern will be to see them returning again and again in different incarnations and/or roles. Assassin's Code uses two Kings to varying effect, and brings in another old character (marking their third, and presumably not last, appearance). Beyond them, another figure starts to move into prominence, and in doing so brings a noticeable and not fully-comfortable shift in the tone of the books. Where previously the zombies and the dragons and the vampires had been genetically modified creatures, with at least some basis in nature and/or science, this figure seems to be fully routed in the supernatural. Certainly his actions and abilities seem immediately unexplainable by conventional methods. How this pans out, we'll have to wait and see.
The only other niggle I have is that all four books appear to have taken place in the space of a year. That's a tough year. And I'm not really sure that Joe and his team actually have any time to recover - mentally, emotionally, physically. Other than that, it's a hell of a book. Thoroughly enjoyable - accessible to people new to the series, but you'll benefit far more from having read the first three.
on 30 December 2014
I think this is the weakest of the first four books. The first one, Patient Zero, to date has been my favourite, and I've been ploughing through the Joe Ledger series very quickly, but I thought this book was a little weaker. I'm writing this review having read the fifth book in the series, which I can also add is a further step down, but still, I find it overall enjoyable.
The introduction of vampires, and the historic Christian/Muslim thing is quite interesting, but I don't think the execution was as well as it was with the Jakotbys in the second book, or the zombies in the first.