I really had no clue as to what to expect from The King of Plagues, the third novel in Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series. I have never read the prequels to Maberry’s newest release so when I responded to an email query and agreed to review the book my private concern was that I not be bored. And freedom from boredom is a guarantee no author, agent or publicist will ever issue regardless of the quality of the book at hand. It’s too subjectively vague a standard, intuited to the preferences and tastes of the individual. Thankfully, boredom was not an issue with this read.
The King of Plagues is a fast moving, action-packed read that provides enough back-story and hindsight in its narrative so that the reader quickly becomes invested without the necessity of having to have read the first two books in the series. Well done, Mr. Maberry. Crafting a third novel in a series that can stand on its own merits without a reader having knowledge of its predecessors is no small feat and one that Maberry made look easy. It also helps to have a suspenseful, conspiracy driven plot and conflicted characters.
I immediately took a liking to the book’s main character, Joe Ledger. Maybe it’s his name. Or maybe it’s because Ledger is a witty and rugged Department of Military Sciences operative who is willing to do what is necessary to get the bad guys. Grief stricken and recovering from a recent loss, Ledger is recalled to active duty when the historic Royal London Hospital is rocked by explosions and thousands die in the building’s fiery collapse. Swept up in vortex of dicey missions, clues, and dead bodies, Ledger dogs the trail and pursues those responsible through a series of blood-chilling scenes sure to raise the reader’s pulse. To his horror, Ledger discovers that a shadowy global criminal conspiracy, the Seven Kings, is poised to release a weaponized version of the Ten Plagues of Egypt. Ledger and his team survive assassination attempts, the Ebola virus, red herrings and misdirections as their investigation peels back layers of deception designed to conceal an ugly truth: terror, war, famine, and disease and fear fuel market meltdowns, stock crashes and beget nations on the verge of chaos, which proves to be profitable for those kindly situated.
In sum, if you’re in the fiction market for a bit of adventurism blended artfully with a dose of suspenseful thriller, then The King of Plagues should find its way to your bookshelf or downloaded onto your e-reader. Enjoy. I did.