REVIEW: Patient Zero (Joe Ledger #1) by Jonathan Maberry

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Horror/ Mystery, Pages: 421, Reading Level: Easy/ Intermediate

Book Description:

“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. And that’s both a good, and a bad thing. It’s good because he’s a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It’s bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance….”

In all honesty, I went back and forth on how to review this book. I usually review books based on how much I enjoyed them. However, every once in a while, I take a broader view and review based on how much I think others will enjoy the book. This time I decided to do the latter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit upfront that I am biased where Jonathan Maberry is concerned. I am a HUGE fan of his Benny Imura (Rot & Ruin) series. So the fact that my rating based on pure enjoyment would have been a three star rating has more to do with Mystery/ Thriller not really being my genre of choice. Patient Zero is sort of a cross of James Bond and The Walking Dead.

This is not a zombie apocalypse. And regardless of the horror categorization, this book is not scary. It is a mystery/ thriller with lots of action to round things out.

So why did I give it five stars? Because those who enjoy this genre, will likely love this book. Maberry’s writing is absolutely phenomenal. The character development is phenomenal. The attention to detail is phenomenal. And there are some really good quotes that I appreciated, even though I didn’t particularly get into the story. For example, the book begins:

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there’s either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world. And there’s nothing wrong with my skills. page 3

One of the things I love about Jonathan Maberry is that I cannot tell what side of the political fence he falls onto. On the contrary, he seems to be a free thinker, who is more concerned about the right thing rather than conservative/ liberal. This didn’t affect my rating, but it really does make me a much bigger Maberry fan. And how could I not be after reading a quote like:

Look, I’m not pointing a finger at any country, any faith, any political party. This is a failing in the whole species. We, the human race, have committed a terrible and unforgivable sin; and before you embarrass us both by asking- no, I’m not having a Catholic moment. This is far more fundamental than church or state. 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 or 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. p177

And then Maberry sealed the deal with this quote:

“What would you say is the most significant underlying motive for all world strife- terrorism, war, intolerance… the works?”
I shrugged. “Ask any cop and he’ll tell you that,” I said. “In the end it’s always about the money.” page 16

I don’t know how many times I have had this exact same discussion with others, although my response usually includes power and land.

Now you have my reasons for giving this book five stars even though I am not likely to read the rest in the Joe Ledger series. Every once in a blue moon I feel like reading something that is not my usual genre. If I ever get the bug to read a mystery/ thriller, I would certainly return to this series and I definitely recommend Patient Zero to those who do enjoy mysteries/ thrillers.

Reviewed by Christina
August 21, 2013

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