Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry

Joe Ledger is a superhero. He might not wear the mask or a costume, but he fights like one and has a rogues’ gallery stacking up against him that would fit the bill of any comic book. I have to admit that when I settled into Patient Zero, I hadn’t known that was what I was getting. I liked the back cover copy and it sounded like a good cop got drafted into a super-secret organization dedicated to fighting zombies. The book delivers that too.

But the pacing is definitely a potboiler from the old school. Jonathan Maberry has his roots in horror fiction and he makes good use of them in this thriller. Zombies appear to be all the rage these days, and Maberry delights in pointing that out while describing the office of one of the medical doctors his character meets. The events come piled on top of each other and there’s no real break for characters to grow and change.

On the flip side, the writing will keep you glued to the pages as you read to see what’s going on, who’s doing what to who, and what Joe Ledger is going to be able to do about it. A top pharmaceutical CEO has joined forces with a Middle Eastern terrorist to create a biological weapon that he intends to create an antidote for and make billions off of. However, the terrorist intends to take advantage of the CEO and create a true biological weapon that can’t be stopped.

In the meantime, Joe Ledger and the ultra-secret agency, the Department of Military Science, are following the bodies and the zombie disease to figure out what’s truly at stake. Maberry goes out of his way to make sure the readers understand that Joe Ledger is a tough guy, and that very few of him gets made these days. I enjoyed that because I’ve always been a fan of the tough guy loner against impossible odds.

The story thins out as it goes along though, relying heavily on action. The guns-and-ammo sections and martial arts bits are well written and it’s easy to see the scenes play out mentally. None of it is a huge brain drain, but it does keep you flipping the pages.

Maberry evidently did a lot of research into prions and disease, and his facts in the book have made me curious enough to take notes and plan to do some further research. Given all the weird diseases and flus that have been going through everyone lately, maybe a little paranoia and increased knowledge would be beneficial.

Patient Zero is evidently the first of a series. A second book of Joe Ledger’s adventures is already in the works. For fans of knock-down, drag-out zombie adventures, this novel will probably be a great treat.

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