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. From the blurb, it sounded like a good cop got drafted into a super-secret organization dedicated to fighting zombies. The book delivers this.
But the pacing is definitely that of 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. 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.