Giant Jonathan Maberry Post
Jonathan Maberry is one of my favorite recent discoveries. His books don’t match most of the rest of my library. They’re fast paced, hard-hitting, and crazy in an awesome way. They are what I would normally consider “man books.” Let me put it another way, I read Clive Cussler to wind down after reading one of the Maberry novels. That should tell you something.
Things about Jonathan Maberry that are awesome:
He did an interview for Little Professor.
He’s an incredibly prolific.
He’s got the Pine Deep series, which does of Pennsylvania what Stephen King did for Main. Or should it be done to Maine? Hmm…
There are my personal favorites – the Joe Ledger series. Joe is a member of the Department of Military Sciences, a covert government agency that deals with the worst threats to America and the world. But more on Joe later…
There is a stand alone novel called Dead of Night. The zombie apocalypse starts in Pennsylvania. It’s brutal and beautiful and depressing as hell.
He has a young adult series that has its third book coming out this fall from Simon & Schuster. He writes graphic novels. He writes non-fiction on a variety of topics including Zombie CSI.
He’s super approachable. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter. He and several others run an online writer’s group. He goes to conventions and is happy to interact with his fans (even weirdos like me!)
He actually knows martial arts, so his fight scenes are extra awesome!
Now, the nitty-gritty. The Joe Ledger series. The Assassin’s Code is #9 on my 100 in 2012 list. I managed to get an ARC from my awesome St. Martin’s rep (THANKS JEFF!!!!) and devoured it. The book actually hits the streets on April 10, but if you’re impatient after reading my awesome reviews they have released a sneak peek… After I finished Assassin’s Code I decided to go back and re-read the entire series. I won’t tell you how many times this makes (since my boyfriend says it’s creepy), but I will say that the books are very re-readable. Unlike some books where knowing the outcome reduces the enjoyment in the story the Maberry books have layers that are revealed the more you know.
Book 1: Patient Zero
This is the book that introduces Joe Ledger and the DMS. At the beginning of things Joe is a detective with the Baltimore PD. He’s one of those guys that has good luck with languages so he’s been loaned out to a Homeland Security task force. Mostly, this means sitting on his butt in a surveillance van listening to people complaining about sports and women. Until one day, someone says something important. It’s just a name, but it’s a name that catapults Joe from the surveillance van to the front lines of the war on terror.
However, it’s a kind of terror that he’s never seen before. No one has ever seen this before. Instead of bombs and guns these people are using bio-weapons straight out of science fiction. They’ve come up with a pathogen that for all intents and purposes… raises the dead. How do you fight that? How do you kill something that’s already dead? How to you train soldiers to shoot an enemy that looks like a sick child, or a grandmother, or a congressman?
Within days Joe has built a team of first line shooters and is racing against the clock to out-think the twisted geniuses behind these attacks. It’s not even clear who his enemies are. Islamic extremists seem to be the face of the attack, but how could they get their hands on this kind of beyond cutting edge medical research? If they drop the ball then it could mean the actual end of the world. No pressure.
Book 2: The Dragon Factory
You know your day is going to be rough when it starts with fleeing from the National Security Agency and then goes downhill from there. Unfortunately, for Joe Ledger, that’s pretty much a Tuesday. It’s actually a minor problem that the Vice President is moving against the DMS. He has mobilized the NSA while the President is out of commission for some surgery. He’s trying to make a clean sweep and shut down the entire DMS, pick up their field agents, and, most importantly, the DMS computer system called Mind Reader. Mind Reader can intrude into any other system, collect data, and exit without leaving any traces. In the hands of the DMS it’s a powerful tool against terror, but in unscrupulous hands it can be a weapon of untold power.
Because of this, the DMS is handicapped going into the real crisis. Joe and Echo team brush the edges of it when they’re sent on a mission to Deep Iron, a subterranean storage facility inside the Colorado mountains. They’re doing a possible search and rescue on another DMS team that has gone dark. When they actually engage two enemy agents they are stunned. These men are capable of superhuman feats of strength and endurance. It’s like someone took a gorilla and gave him a combat exoskeleton and then sent him to murder Mrs. Ledger’s favorite son.
At the same time, in several places around the world, isolated populations are seeing a dramatic increase in genetic diseases. Illnesses that traditionally affect small parts of the population are becoming epidemics. People are catching inherited diseases. Illnesses that have treatment protocols are killing people who should be getting better. People are dying from diseases they should never have even had. Somehow this is all tied in with the records Jigsaw team and the strange soldiers were looking for in Deep Iron; records that date back to the Nazi death camps and the genetic experiments that were performed there.
Book 3: The King of Plagues
Joe has been a long time healing from the events at the Dragon Factory. He’s actually on vacation in London when the Royal London Hospital is bombed. As the only DMS agent available in Europe he is attached to the investigation. Just as he is starting to make some headway he’s called out to the Orkney Isles to attempt to contain a situation at a bio-weapons research lab. Someone is terrorizing ordinary men and women into committing atrocities; someone who is working for a shadowy organization calling itself the Seven Kings.
The Kings are dedicated to destabilizing the world. Anything that might cause chaos, and result in profit for them, is fair game. Terrorism, assassinations, disease, scarcity, coups; all of these are weapons in the King’s arsenal. But the Kings themselves remain shrouded in darkness. The DMS has tangled with the Chosen, the street level minions of the Kings’ organization. They have once engaged the Kingsmen, the upper level of soldiers, but of the Kings themselves there is no sign. The only thing they know is that the Kings want to drown the world in a river of blood. That is ominous, but terribly vague. How do you fight something that sounds like a biblical curse?
Echo team is doing a covert operation in Iran. Three American hikers have been captured and accused of spying by the Iranian military. Joe and Echo team go in to rescue them, hopefully, without sparking off a war. The mission goes well. The team is away and Joe is getting ready to follow his own exit plan when everything goes to hell. He plays tag with a couple of snipers, meets with the head of Iranian Intelligence, and gets attacked in his hotel room by a man with superhuman strength and filled teeth. Then things get ugly. Safe houses have become bloodbaths.
Three different groups seem to be tracking Joe through Iran. One group is ruthless, but amateurish. They can deal damage, but nothing like the professionals Joe is used to going up against. The second group is headed by his new best friend, the sniper named Violin. When she doesn’t have a laser sight on his… assets, she seems like a nice lady and she’s great backup when the chips are down. The third group is… something else. They are known as the Knights of the Red Order and they are fast, strong, and utterly vicious. All three groups seem to want the flash drive given to him by his Iranian contact. A flash drive that shows pictures of a nuclear weapon that is supposedly hidden somewhere in Iran. To make matters worse, the nuke is one of several hidden around the world.
Yes. I’m a fan girl. I admit it. I gush. (Although, lucky for me, he is not the proud recipient of my most embarrassing author interaction. That honor goes to Dan Wells.) For some reason, there is something in Maberry’s writing that answers a need in my weird little psyche. The books are fast and Joe Ledger is the sort of person I can unreservedly cheer for. No, he doesn’t follow proper police procedure. Hell, he doesn’t even follow the Geneva Convention, but he’s fighting monsters, the ultimate politically correct villains!