Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars A Return To Form, 10 July 2012
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This review is from: Assassin's Code (Joe Ledger Novels) (Paperback)
After kicking off his Joe Ledger series in style with Patient Zero, Jonathan Ledger's two follow-up books The Dragon Factory and The King of Plagues were good but didn't quite live up to the first book's promise.

With Assassin's Code however, Maberry has recovered some of the form he'd lost. Whilst not quite on a par with Patient Zero this fourth Ledger adventure comes close.

I'll not spoil the plot apart from to say that 'Dan Brown on crack' isn't far from the truth, but don't let the reference to DB put you off. What I will say is that this story benefits from being on a somewhat smaller scale than either The Dragon Factory or The King of Plagues. There are no celebrity filled cruise ships, 9/11 style terrorist attacks or zombie armies on display here. There are outlandish ideas as you would expect from a Ledger adventure and the stakes are potentially world shattering as usual, but all the action bar a few flash backs takes place in either the DMS HQ back in the US or in Iran, over a truncated period of time and involves a relatively small cast of characters. This gives the story an immediacy and a level of plausibility, if that's the right word, that saving the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Bono and a bunch of other 'real' celebs in The King of Plagues didn't have.

Thankfully, and this is more of a personal thing, Maberry reigns in his tendency towards more purple-prose that I found increasingly irritating in Dragon Factory and King of Plagues. There's less of the cod-psycho babble about Ledger's personality peppering the text than in previous books, and only one cringe-worthy sex scene.

The book also sets up some nice plot threads for future instalments whilst tying off some that were left hanging at the end of The King of Plagues. There are a few weak spots in the story, with some incidental characters failing to really jump off the page and some of the various conspiracy elements not working as well as others. Your opinion of the book will also depend on whether you can go with the concept behind the main bad guys. In my opinion it wasn't as well thought out as the 'zombies' in Patient Zero, but it was far better conceived than the ex-Nazi bad guys and their genetic tinkering in The Dragon Factory. I could certainly suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy the story, helped by the unrelenting pace of events. The only bits that didn't really work for me were the mysterious figure of Nicodemus, who felt out of place with his overtly supernatural nature, and the ending, which was far too predictable.

However, I am now looking forward to the next Joe Ledger adventure. If Maberry can maintain the same standard next time around it will be at the top of my reading list.
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