Joe Ledger works for the Baltimore PD, and was an Army Ranger back before 9/11 blew up the world. He’s a pretty normal dude in his mid-30s, except he’s an absolute badass who’s really good at beating people up.
We’ve seen this story told a thousand times. If this was a movie in the ’80s, it’d probably star Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. If it was the ’90s, it’d probably star Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis. If it was made today….I don’t know. Maybe the Rock? But not necessarily because this book is that bad – it’s just that when these are made into movies, they generally star those kinds of actors.
And this book isn’t that bad. Its not great – believe it or not, this isn’t great literature – but it’s enjoyable for what it is.
Ledger gets recruited by a secret government agency (the Department of Military Sciences) tasked with saving the world from various pandemics, monsters, and other enemies of the United States. In Patient Zero, the first book in the series, the monsters are zombies created by an al Qaeda-like splinter group funded by a pharmaceutical company, not to take over the world, but to reap the profits of forcing the government to fund medical research to combat diseases that they created.
This book was written in 2009 – so still pretty deep into the War on Terror back when that meant the Middle East was a hot zone that Americans sorta cared about. So it makes sense, given the timeframe, that the dangerous terrorists would be from the Muslim world. But reading it now, it’s jarring.
Since 9/11, roughly half of all deaths related to terrorism have been from right wing extremists. We live in a different world, now. Muslims aren’t the threat they seemingly were. It’s not the fault of this book, or its writer, that the enemy rings false, but that doesn’t make it any less of a counterfactual.
The story continues through eight more books and multiple short stories.
I read Zero Tolerance, Material Witness, Deep, Deep Dark before moving on from the series, and found them all moderately engaging but of no real added value to the Joe Ledger world. The short Deep, Deep Dark takes place in Pine Deep, the same as Maberry’s first series. I like when authors connect their work into a larger shared universe, so that’s pretty cool.
Ultimately, I wasn’t invested in this series. The main character was okay, I guess, but I’m not really interested in devoting my increasingly non-existent free time on a giant 10 book series.
At least not at the moment.