In Maberry’s first novel in the Joe Ledger series, Baltimore detective Joe Ledger is brought into a secretive government facility where he is being recruited to lead an X Files style covert government special forces that are designed to tackle things that are far beyond the ordinary. As a sort of test, he is put into the same room as a terrorist who he had just killed the previous week and is now alive again. In this novel, the zombies are not supernatural in nature, but have been fabricated in a laboratory by terrorists as a weapon to attack the United States and the western world. Joe winds up leading a special forces group of the Department of Military Services. The terrorists are in the process of weaponizing a new form of zombie that they call the Sword of the Faithful, which are very different than the mindless zombies that are typically seen. These ones can think and fight and have retained most of their humanity.
There are things that I really enjoyed about this novel, and things that I didn’t like about it. On the plus side, the concept itself is really neat. The story is set at a really strong pace and continues to move with few dead spots. The action is really strong. The fight scenes are well constructed. Joe Ledger and some of the side characters on the protagonist side are well-developed. On the negative side, the antagonists in this story were poorly constructed and not credible. There were certain elements of the story that lacked any kind of logic and believability, including some that reminded me of what I hated about the television show 24, where I would read something that was so outrageous that it would take me out of the flow of the story. Also, this story has my ultimate pet peeve in fiction literature: the evil pharmaceutical that creates an illness so that it can then sell the cure. I wanted to throw the book across the room in those scenes. It has become beyond cliché. In the end, my opinion of this novel is mixed. I hope that Maberry will tighten some of these things in future editions of this series.
Carl Alves – author of Blood Street