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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 16 July 2013
Fans of this series will not be disappointed by this book, which pits the DMS against Hi Tech Vampires (pointy fangs, red eyes and nukes!) anybody else out there, where have you been?
The story mainly follows Joe and his dog as he races against time to prevent a truly catastrophic terrorist plot. The rest of Echo team are left in the background for much of the book, and this allows the plot to move quickly to it's (very) violent conclusion.
TV may beckon for this series before too much longer, but I'll bet the violence will be toned down for the viewing public.
I've already bought the next book in this series and literally can't wait to see what happens next.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 May 2012
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.
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on 19 February 2013
I really like Jonathan Mayberry as an author. His zombie novels are always a good read and Joe Ledger is a great central character just waiting to be converted to the big screen. Great story, interesting characters, great plot. Would thoroughly recommend this book and others in the series...
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on 12 July 2013
Joe Ledger has brought his a-game back in the fourth book of the series.

The the third book in the series left me mildly disappointed, but the fourth has brought me right back into the un-put-down-able action.

A must read for any Joe ledger fan.
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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.
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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.
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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!!!!
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on 25 April 2012
Firstly, if you dont understand the review title, then you should go purchase Patient Zero, and the other books in this series, before diving in to this one. It does continue an existing narrative, and you will benefit greatly with knowledge gleaned from the previous adventures of Joe Ledger and the DMS.

That being said, for those familiar with Echo Team and their ultra secret battle with the mad scientists and secret societies behind global terrorism, I am delighted to report that this book represents the best follow up to the amazing first novel.

The plot is still wildly imaginative, but does not stretch credulity to the extent that many accused Dragon Factory of doing, and also feels a little more solid, and focused than King of Plagues. Indeed, in context of the series, this feels like the true crescendo to the King of Plagues story arc.

Most importantly, Joe is given great villains to fight against. Everyobody loved the bio-engineered zombies in PZ, and here, the idea that Vampires not only exist, but are a naturaly occuring evolutionary hiccup in the dna of humanity seems entirely plausible, and they are a formidable foil to test Joe's skills, will, and sanity.

Ghost continues to be a wonderful sidekick, and Mr Maberry clearly owns a dog himself, as it is a brilliantly observed character in his own right.

Improvements, in my humble opinion, have been made in Mr Maberry's ability to not only convey the technical aspect of hand to hand fighting, but to bring out the cinematic quality to the readers visualisation of the violence. I can imagine some of the fights in previous novels to have read a bit like a technical manual to those unfamiliar with martial arts, but here, the style relaxes a little, and the big picture plays out much more clearly in the minds eye. Also, while still very much in the frame, the psychology of Joe is not handled as heavily or prominently, with the author trusting that he is playing to an audience who already know the score re. Ledger's mental state- this frees up the book to breath more naturaly than in books 2 and 3, where this element ran the risk of slowing the rollercoaster.

As always, the author weaves the story together from different timelines and perspectives, following all the players in the game, and revealing things in such a way as to have the reader put the pieces of the puzzle together as the DMS do.

For the fan of the series, this book is a no brainer - and you probably have already bought and read it long before I typed this.

But for those who found Dragon Factory and/or King of Plagues to be underwhelming in comparison to PZ, I urge you to give Assassins Code a whirl. Ledger is back to his very best.
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on 3 June 2012
This is a bit of a return to form for Maberry and Ledger. Patient Zero, the first book in the series, is by far the best. In comparison, Dragon Factory was just okay. I found it more difficult to suspend disbelief about mythical creatures and neanderthals(!) than for the zombies in Patient Zero. King of Plagues, the third in the series, was poor. The 'seven kings' storyline was preposterous and a bit dull. Assassin's Code also has a far-fetched plot but the story works better than King of Plagues. It rambles around a bit at the beginning, where it feels like a "Jason Bourne" storyline, but picks up pace later and I found it hard to put down. These books might be categorised as "airport" or "beach" reading i.e. they're entertaining but ultimately forgetable. Strangely enough, the author's zombie series, which is aimed at the teenage market, is more mature than this series, and they are highly recommended. So I'll probably buy the next Joe Ledger novel but I'm at the stage, I suppose, where I'll be making a decision with the next book whether or not to carry on with this character or drop him from my reading list.
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