The tagline in Jonathan Maberry’s novel Patient Zero reads, “ When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills…and there’s nothing wrong with joe Ledger’s skills." Okay, my interest is piqued. In this novel, the first book in the Joe Ledger series, Joe is a Baltimore detective who has been assigned to an inter-jurisdictional counter terrorism taskforce. Joe is recruited by a super secret organization, the DMS (Department of Military Science) to stop a group of whacked out terrorists from releasing a plague that, and I swear I’m not making this up….turns people into zombies. (Yeah….how cool is that! Terrorist zombies…..)
I read Patient Zero because I had received Maberry’s second Joe Ledger book for review and liked it enough that I wanted to read his first. (Just a suggestion…read Patient Zero first….The Dragon Factory was great and can stand on its own just fine, but I sort of knew who would survive the whole “world coming to an end” in Patient Zero because I knew who was going to be in The Dragon Factory.) Whatever order you can read them in, if you’re a fan of the genre..and I’m not sure what genre I’m talking about here, sci-fi, thriller, suspense, mystery? I don’t know, but the book has crazy fundamentalist terrorists, crazy mad scientists, evil pharmaceutical corporate entrepreneurs, obscure prion diseases, parasites, and zombies on one side. And on the other, we have enigmatic directors, a team of soldiers saving the world in no nonsense and ballsy ways, techno-geeks aplenty, kick-ass weaponry and bad-ass techniques. Gruesome in places, hey….it’s got zombies, whaddya expect?
It’s not all butt-kicking action though. The author manages to squeeze in a little introspection and a bit of philosophy, which is good, because it’s nice to have a moment to catch our breath.
“….This is ours to own because we know better. As a species, we know better. We really do understand right and wrong, same as we really do grasp all the subtle shades of gray. We have had thousands of years of religious leaders, philosophers, free thinkers, and political scientists explaining the cause and effect of destructive behavior. You’d think by now, at the point where we are this technologically advanced and where communication between all races is not only possible but globally instantaneous, that we’d have learned something, that we’d have benefited from all those previous mistakes. You’d think we’d have become more forward-thinking and farsighted. But we’re not. With computer modeling we can virtually look into the future and see how things will go if we follow these courses, and yet we don’t do a thing to change direction. Maybe the true human flaw is our inability to act as if the next generation matters. We never have. Individually maybe, but not as a nation, not as a species.”Might just be a novel, but sometimes there's lot of truth in fiction…
So, summing up, zombies, bio-warfare, uber evil rich dude, crazy terrorists, double-crossing evil plots, mad scientists, the coolest bunch of good guys ever, and did I mention…ZOMBIES…..I loved this book so much that I downloaded a couple of great short stories into my Sony Reader to help fill the “Gotta have my Maberry” urge. I read them…they were great, but did I mention they were SHORT stories. Hmmm….c’mon Mr.Maberry, crank it up, I needs me my Joe Ledger fix. I believe that there is another Joe Ledger coming out next year. But that’s so long to wait. I mean, what if zombies attack before then? Sigh…okay…drumming fingers on the table...I’ll wait…*sigh...this is me…being patient...*sigh
Review copy provided by ME!