Joe Ledger is back and he brought his smartass sense of humor with him this time. The last book had a little bit of a departure from his sense of humor. This book brings it back with a vengeance. I especially loved when he first gets introduced to Aunt Sally. That scene is classic. I listened to it over and over again, laughing each time.
This book also features the less than triumphant return of Gault and Toys. Their relationship makes these characters more interesting than just the stock bad guys. The reader is never sure how their relationship is going.
Also with Joe we find him returning to the DMS, given glimpses of a side story of what he was doing while he was away. Once again he is thrown into the fire and is already behind as they find out that there is a plot to destroy the world.
I like the way Jonathan Maberry has been handling these characters, especially Joe and Church. He metes out a small amount of insight at a time as to who they are, what they want, and why they do what they do. Joe especially is a very human character with faults and frailties instead of just being an emotionless badass. I find that this adds amazing depth to the character. The internal conflict that the reader sees him go through on a regular basis makes him very accessible through his doubts and fears.
The other addition that I really liked in this book was Joe’s German Shepherd, Ghost. At first, Ghost seems like a prop, but as the story goes along, Ghost begins to show his own personality. It is definitely a sidekick role but as the story progresses we see the relationship between Joe and Ghost which is deeper than a trained dog and his handler.
The storyline was interesting. It wasn’t immediately a doomsday plot and Mr. Maberry did a great job of milking the mythology of secret groups and adding his own slant to it while making it seem plausible instead of cliched, which it easily could’ve become.
Once again there was a great amount of tension as we watch the villains systematically execute their plot and watch the DMS struggle to catch up. As the story continues and Joe discovers what is happening piece by piece, the seeming infallibility of the group is chipped away.
One of the other new characters is Santoro, a devoted madman whose character definitely evokes strong emotions. I felt myself wanting to harm this person at several points for the things that he had done. The villains were done quite well not only in Santoro but also the Seven Kings who were the group behind the scenes, driving the whole nefarious plot.
The plot itself was less supernatural this time and more about a group who wanted to profit from mass destruction, however, their web of deception was so well done and so well written that I found myself more interested in this story than the first two.
The only real supernatural component was the character Nicodemus, who was creepy and very interesting, and I could easily see being a continuing thorn in Joe’s side throughout other books.
If anything, this book had more of an emotional impact than the other two, with the exception of a certain scene in The Dragon Factory, because it really showed the depths an individual can be coerced to do to save those they love. It was emotional because Santoro took good people, caring people, who were absolutely devoted to the people they love and turn that against them and use them for unconscionable acts of evil.
Another new character that I liked was Sercie. When she started out she was a very dry character until she introduced herself to Joe. That scene in itself was completely hysterical, and I really liked that they brought her in as a former friend of Grace’s.
Another thing I liked about this book was the plot. In Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory, I guessed a majority of the ending about halfway through the book. With this book, I had no idea what was coming until the very end. I was happy with a plot that kept me guessing and at the same time was brilliant in its own simplicity. I enjoyed not guessing the ending halfway through the book.
Overall, another very interesting and involving book that continues to grow the main characters. I look forward to the next.