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Joe Ledger #4

Assassin's Code

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2012)
In ASSASSIN’S CODE, the fourth book in New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, Joe Ledger and the DMS go on a relentless chase to stop an ancient order of killers from plunging the entire world into Holy War.
When Joe Ledger and Echo Team rescue a group of American college kids held hostage in Iran,the Iranian government then asks them to help find six nuclear bombs planted in the Mideast oil fields. These stolen WMDs will lead Joe and Echo Team into hidden vaults of forbidden knowledge, mass-murder, betrayal, and a brotherhood of genetically-engineered killers with a thirst for blood.

Accompanied by the beautiful assassin called Violin, Joe follows a series of clues to find the Book of Shadows, which contains a horrifying truth that threatens to shatter his entire worldview.

They say the truth will set you free…
Not this time.

The secrets of the Assassin’s Code will set the world ablaze.

422 pages, Paperback

First published April 10, 2012

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About the author

Jonathan Maberry

472 books7,029 followers
JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-seller and Audible #1 bestseller, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, anthology editor, comic book writer, executive producer, magazine feature writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer. He is the editor of WEIRD TALES Magazine and president of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. He is the recipient of the Inkpot Award, three Scribe Awards, and was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than thirty countries. He writes in several genres including thriller, horror, science fiction, epic fantasy, and mystery; and he writes for adults, middle grade, and young adult.

Jonathan is the creator, editor and co-author of V-WARS, a shared-world vampire anthology from IDW Publishing that was adapted into a NETFLIX series starring Ian Somerhalder (LOST, VAMPIRE DIARIES).

His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuted in 2018 and was followed by LOST ROADS in fall 2020. ROT & RUIN is in development for film by ALCON ENTERTAINMENT and was adapted as a WEBTOON (a serialized comic formatted for cell phones), becoming their #1 horror comic.

His novels include the enormously popular Joe Ledger series from St. Martin’s Griffin (PATIENT ZERO, 2009, winner of the Black Quill and a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best Novel) and eleven other volumes, most recently RELENTLESS. His middle grade novel, THE NIGHTSIDERS BOOK 1: THE ORPHAN ARMY (Simon & Schuster) was named one the 100 Best Books for Children 2015. His standalone novels include MARS ONE, GLIMPSE, INK, GHOSTWALKERS (based on the DEADLANDS role-playing game), X-FILES ORIGINS: DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, and THE WOLFMAN --winner of the Scribe Award for Best Movie Adaptation

His horror novels include The Pine Deep Trilogy from Pinnacle Books (GHOST ROAD BLUES, 2006, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium; DEAD MAN’S SONG, 2007; and BAD MOON RISING, 2008; as well as DEAD OF NIGHT, and its sequels, FALL OF NIGHT, DARK OF NIGHT, and STILL OF NIGHT.

His epic fantasy series, KAGEN THE DAMNED debuts in May 2022. And he just signed to co-author (with Weston Ochse) a new series of military science fiction novels that launches the SLEEPERS series. Jonathan will also be launching a new series of science fiction horror novels for the newly established Weird Tales Presents imprint of Blackstone Publishing.

He is also the editor of three THE X-FILES anthologies; the dark fantasy anthology series, OUT OF TUNE; SCARY OUT THERE, an anthology of horror for teens; and the anthologies ALIENS: BUG HUNT, NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (with George Romero), JOE LEDGER UNSTOPPABLE (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt); two volumes of mysteries: ALTERNATE SHERLOCKS and THE GAME’S AFOOT (with Michael Ventrella); and ALIENS V PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt). He is also the editor of DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, the official tribute to SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. His next anthology will be ALIENS VS PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt), debuting in spring 2022.

Jonathan was an expert on the History Channel documentary series, ZOMBIES: A Living History and TRUE MONSTERS. And he was participated in the commentary track for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED.

His many nonfiction works include VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (Citadel Press, 2006); THE CRYPTOPED

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5 stars
3,225 (46%)
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835 (11%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 421 reviews
Profile Image for Zain.
1,379 reviews141 followers
January 21, 2022

Once again Joe Ledger and Echo Team are fighting for peace and justice and the American way.

They have so many enemies in this story that you won’t know which way to turn.

And if multiple bad guys aren’t enough, vampires, and vampire hunters are in the mix.

Joe and Team Echo have their work cut out for them.
Profile Image for Char.
1,638 reviews1,488 followers
September 20, 2019
ASSASSIN'S CODE is another fine entry in the Joe Ledger series.

Filled with Ledger's sense of humor and fighting nuclear terrorism on a global scale, this book featured everything I've come to love about this series. Yes, Grace is gone, but now we have Ghost to love, and Violin. (I'll say nothing more about her because...spoilers.)

There were a few villains here from previous books that finally got what was coming to them, and maybe one or two who did not. I guess we'll have to wait until the next book and see what happens.

Ray Porter is the voice of Ledger to me, and because of his work I'm continuing on with this military/action/dark fiction story. Usually military action type tales don't do anything for me, but with Ray Porter speaking in Ledger's voice, I now find this series to be MUST READS, or maybe MUST LISTENS!

I can hardly wait for the next one! Recommended!

*Thanks to my local library for the free audiobook download! Libraries RULE!*
Profile Image for Luna .
133 reviews30 followers
September 4, 2022
Extraordinary. What a series this is. Each book surpasses the previous. So much going on and it never really has much to do with how it starts. Maybe that might sound a bit confusing to you but if you had the pleasure of reading this series you know what I speak of.
So I thought of a great way to review this book but it would contain way too many spoilers in a way and I believe I border on spoilers as is. Funny how some cry about the slightest spoil and yet so many of us can’t even remember the book we’ve just read days after we’ve read it. I’ll tell myself it’s because I’ve moved on to a new one but yeah right – lol. My point is I read about 15-20 reviews on GR a day and for mostly all different books. Like if there is a spoil in a review am I really going to remember it? C’mon seriously. Yet in having to appease the small minority who stamp their feet oh so loud at even an imagined spoil I will review this in a way that will no doubt not do this book the justice it deserves. I think I won’t be able to explain how well done, how well put together Maberry’s ideas truly are and quite frankly it might sound stupid at one level and yet with a spoiler or two I could have really opened some eyes as to the genius of Maberry. If you are a spoiler cryer maybe stick to the back of the book jacket and avoid reviews!! Finally on this point how many times has a spoil drawn you into a book you would have never considered???
Finally – to the book. Joe Ledger our hero who works for the ultra secret Department of Military Science is in Iran to free three student hostages. The mission goes great but he is uncovered by a top Iranian official who wants to meet with him. When there is a red snipers dot on your crotch you pretty well will do what is needed. The Iranian official produces a flash drive in his possession that explains that there are 7 rogue nuclear devices in the possession of someone and that five are planted in oil fields across the world including one in Iran. The Iranian official wants DMS to assist them.
During that meeting arch DMS enemy Hugo Vox is mentioned. He was instrumental in the last book the King of Plagues but this book can be read stand alone as enough of the last book is explained.
So the book moves on to the nuclear angle. We learn that Hugo Vox has cancer. We learn that he offered up the nukes to a secret order known as the Red Knights. The Knights are lethal enforcers who work for the Red Order. The Red Order are part of the Catholic Church. That's quite a lot of info, lol. The red order is unsanctioned by the Church officially and led by a rogue priest Father Nicodemus – the same priest who founded it and who also appeared in the King of Plagues, the last Ledger book. Back in the 12th century when the crusades were happening two delegates representing Islam and Catholicism came up with a plan to end the crusades and kind of bring a somewhat haphazard plan of stability to the region. Maberry eventually gets so intricate here and I by no means can do it justice in a review. He teases you with the details from the beginning of the book not revealing what the plan actually is until p.318 of a 421 page book. I wanted to use excerpts of chapter 88 to show how Maberry so sells his ideas but I have to keep in mind the spoilers. So when this agreement became unofficially official the Catholics had no one as skilled as the Islamic Order of Assassins who were as lethal on their (Catholic) side. Yet Father Nicodemus new of a people who we learn are human but not of the same DNA as us. A banished people who the Father recruits convincing them they are gods creatures too and they were in fact chosen to be the assassins of the church in the same way the Order is for the Islamic side. This alter human species buys in and live in the caves and tunnels underneath cities throughout the world waiting to do as instructed by the Red Order. They are strong, powerful, quick and agile. Maberry sells them so well. Yet this species is weak in its own way and unable to breed. There are few women of their kind so they capture human women holding them in pens for breeding purposes. A little crazy but I have to touch on it to get to the faction of women who escaped the Knights and seek to expose them for who they really are and want to abolish them from existence. These women have formed an organization known as Arklight and they ultimately join forces with Ledger and the DMS to eradicate the Knights and resolve the nuclear issue at hand.
So this unofficial agreement between the two religions has been going on for almost a century. The Knights though are realizing they are no more than slaves to the church. Their leader is tiring of the church, he is tiring of mankind. Vox knows of him as his great uncle was part of the forming of the Red Order and recruited the knights. He is aware that the Knights have great resources, have new medicine on their side to help with their health and improve their breeding chances. Vox has cancer and he meets with the leader of the Knights (Grigor) trading him the nukes for their serum hoping it cures his cancer. Grigor thinks the serum will in fact kill Vox but agrees to the trade seeing an opportunity to start a nuclear war and get rid of mankind as his species will thrive in a post nuclear war.
So having written my review I think it went better than expected. A situation is never as dire as one thinks. Time and thinking it through tends to help out. (Yet 90% of you are likely thinking – what is this idiot talking about and what the hell did he read, lol). The ideas that Maberry comes up with for this series are unbelievable. They are well thought out. They are intricate and so buyable. The first one deals with bio terrorism and that basically is believable now with Covid – I mean the idea of a killer plague. The third is similar. This one, the fourth, centers on the conflict between two religions and you cannot deny that exists and it feeds off that tension and you as the reader are glued from the start.
This guy can flat out right. I came across him in his Ghostroad Blues trilogy which is a different take on vampires. He seems obsessed by vampires and that was his first series. The writing in those books is incredible. The flowering of sentences and paragraphs was crazy. I remember reading actual paragraphs out to my wife and she is an avid reader and she too couldn’t believe the detail. I actually believe he was told to dummy it down as these books are different in that way from the first series I read. Don’t get me wrong they are phenomenal, just not as excessive with the wording. Is it sad that I keep rating things five stars? My massage therapist used to be huge on goodreads, reviewing and interacting with authors. I told her about the year I’m having reading wise and she thinks I’ve just been able to find my groove. I hope I haven’t jinxed myself. Onward I go, I highly recommend this one and this series. 😊
Profile Image for Narilka.
583 reviews40 followers
February 13, 2021
Rating: 4.5 stars

I'm glad Maberry went back to the supernatural. This story was almost as crazy as the first book. I think Joe gives the best synopsis:

In my trade, confidence is built on a platform whose legs are made up of good intelligence, continuous training, proper equipment, and field support. I had a sick dog, a dead man’s gun, a stolen briefcase, a vampire hunter’s stake in my belt, and a cell phone; and I was walking down a street in Tehran less than a day after breaking three political prisoners out of jail. I was involved in several murders and had left sufficient physical evidence behind to convict me on enough charges to lock me up until I was a thousand years old. Or enough to have me put against a wall.

Oh, yeah, and there were seven hidden nuclear bombs and somehow vampires were tied up in that.

My life used to be a lot less complicated.

Assissin's Code is the fourth book in the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry. This has to be one of the roughest 48 hours in Joe's life. Poor Ghost too! It seems like both of them kept getting the crap beat out of them as they attempt to make sense of an insane situation. The action is heart poundingly relentless making for the first time I seriously thought Joe wouldn't survive even though I know there are 6 more books in the series.

Violin and ArcLight are a great additions to the cast. Anger these ladies at your own risk! I can't wait to see how their organization works with the DMS in future books and how Joe's relationship with Violin progresses. They would make a nearly unstoppable pair. The implication of Nicodemus leaves a lot of room for to explore the mythology being created in this world. It was very satisfying for a couple of the villains we love to hate to get their comeuppance. Mr. Church continues to be his enigmatic best and it was heartwarming that Rudy has found some happiness in his life.

Ray Porter's narration of the audio book is brilliant as always. It won't be long before book 5 cycles in to my listening rotation.
Profile Image for AziaMinor.
435 reviews54 followers
June 26, 2022
Overall Rating : B+

"'I am so...tired... of war,' he said, and that said a lot."

This leaned more towards the supernatural than the other books, but just like zombies, explained in a way that could make you say - hmm that could make sense. 🤔 Everything happens so fast you better pay attention or your gonna get lost.

Also a lot more emotionally damaging in terms of mental and physical anguish, both short and long term. You really feel for Joe, Arklight, Church, the whole world. War/people are brutal, so make sure you have some one you can count on to take you back to the light when your in that dark place.
Profile Image for Sara.
136 reviews13 followers
April 15, 2012
Echo team is doing a covert operation in Iran. Three American hikers have been captured and accused of spying by the Iranian military. Joe and Echo team go in to rescue them, hopefully, without sparking off a war. The mission goes well. The team is away and Joe is getting ready to follow his own exit plan when everything goes to hell. He plays tag with a couple of snipers, meets with the head of Iranian Intelligence, and gets attacked in his hotel room by a man with superhuman strength and filled teeth. Then things get ugly. Safe houses have become bloodbaths.

Three different groups seem to be tracking Joe through Iran. One group is ruthless, but amateurish. They can deal damage, but nothing like the professionals Joe is used to going up against. The second group is headed by his new best friend, the sniper named Violin. When she doesn’t have a laser sight on his… assets, she seems like a nice lady and she’s great backup when the chips are down. The third group is… something else. They are known as the Knights of the Red Order and they are fast, strong, and utterly vicious. All three groups seem to want the flash drive given to him by his Iranian contact. A flash drive that shows pictures of a nuclear weapon that is supposedly hidden somewhere in Iran. To make matters worse, the nuke is one of several hidden around the world.
Profile Image for Rizwan Khalil.
332 reviews510 followers
October 28, 2021
In my trade, confidence is built on a platform whose legs are made up of good intelligence, continuous training, proper equipment, and field support. I had a sick dog, a dead man’s gun, a stolen briefcase, a vampire hunter’s stake in my belt, and a cell phone; and I was walking down a street in Tehran less than a day after breaking three political prisoners out of jail. I was involved in several murders and had left sufficient physical evidence behind to convict me on enough charges to lock me up until I was a thousand years old. Or enough to have me put against a wall.

Oh, yeah, and there were seven hidden nuclear bombs and somehow vampires were tied up in that.

My life used to be a lot less complicated.
Without a doubt, the best book of the mindblowing Joe Ledger series, and the one of the greatest, most finest action-thriller-suspense novels I've read in my life!

This insanely brilliant thriller had it all: Insane bloodpumping violant action sequences one after the other; nuclear threats of hidden nukes (not one or two, but seven!); covert shadow war between secret societies going on for 800 years; mindnumbing conspiracies; heartbreaking histories and deaths; headscratching twisted puzzles and mysteries one on top the other; ancient mathematical codex & mysterious unreadable ancient books; a truly evil genius mastermind or two; one GIANT mess of double crossing-triple crossing-hidden agendas-who what whys; tender quiet moments of philosophical and religious debate on what truly meant to be human and what is good or bad; some great characters in our good guys (specially Echo Team, Ghost the military dog, Mr. Church, Circe-Rudy); above of all else our always lovable Captain Joseph Ledger in his Badassest Kickassest Smartassest Best. ....Oh, and lest I forget to mention a little something: VAMPIRES. In all their blood-sucking fanged-toothing super-strengthening super-speeding red-eyeing garlic-hating psychopathic glory, in the most realistic way possible. Yeah, get your head around that part. Plus, there was also an immortal priest who was the literal personification of evil or agent of chaos or something like that, mixed up in all this.

Yes, I know how all of it sounds. And yet, in the truest sense, this one is one of the most deliciously tasted, frenziedly read (more like inhaled!) action-thrillers I've had the pleasure to enjoy in my long reader-life. I literally could not stop laughing like an idiot in unabashed fun while racing through pages and visualizing some of the spectacular ridiculous sequences... One bloody fulltoos good-time that I can't praise enough. Hooah!
The vampires looked at me, at my empty hands, and smiled, showing me the jagged fangs that would tear the life out of me.

I whipped out the rapid-release knife and showed them my fang.
Definitely one the most badass lines I've ever read.

Edit: 28 October 2021 - 3rd time re-reading after a long while.
Profile Image for Cindy Newton.
622 reviews129 followers
June 15, 2021
I love me some Joe! I was a little disappointed in the beginning--I thought Circe and Joe were going to hook up, but apparently, it was not meant to be. That's okay. Rudy deserves a little action, too. That's another thing! I really like Rudy, but can't he use some other expletive than "Dios Mio"? I mean, I know that Spanish is his first language, but seriously? Would a "holy shit" every once in a while kill him? Just one of those things that grabs your attention when you're audiobooking it.

I LOVE this series and I don't know how Jonathan Maberry stayed under my radar so long. I've had his Rot and Ruin books in my classroom library for years, but had no inkling that he had written any adult books. I especially like how the threads of the series span several volumes. I mean, any series you read usually builds on the others and it always enhances the story if you're aware of the history of the characters, but I feel like those connective threads are much stronger in this series. We've had Sebastian Gault and Toys front and center in two books now. Hugo Vox has been a presence in all of the books. I have no doubt that ArcLight will continue to appear in future volumes. It's a shame that most of Joe's colleagues keep getting killed off. :( I love that they even made vampirism sound scientifically possible.

If you haven't started this series, do it! You won't regret it!
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,556 reviews32 followers
February 22, 2019
I really like a good SiFi story that uses as much real or just beyond the cutting edge of science in its story. I also love a good fast paced action/adventure book. I never thought I would enjoy the blend of the two but boy was I wrong. These are awesome action books with a fast paced story line and tight plot driven by the science menace the main character fights against. Not I have to make an entire new sub-genre in my head: Action SiFi. Amazing reads. Highly recommended
Profile Image for Paul Montgomery.
Author 4 books4 followers
May 24, 2012
I first caught Jonathan Maberry when I bought Patient Zero on a whim a couple of years back. Basic story was that lunatic terrorists were creating a zombie plague (of sorts), and a hastily-assembled tactical team attempted to take them out. In the course of the book, we were introduced to key characters Joe Ledger (our protagonist), Ghost (his dog), Rudy (his friend and therapist), Echo Team (the hastily-assembled tactical team), DMS (the covert agency responsible for dealing with situations like this), and Mr Church (the boss of DMS).

I've never been a huge fan of the military operation books. Andy McNab does not grace my bookshelves (although I have the utmost respect for him). Zombie books do, although I'm not a hardcore obsessive. So, taking a chance, I tried a new author (something I do every now and then, usually when I've exhausted whichever author currently has me hooked. Most recently, Preston and Child. But that's another story). I was, very pleasantly, surprised. Ledger turned out to be an engaging character, with the sense of (often inappropriate) humour which tickled me. That same sense of humour helps drastically in cutting through what could be a fairly ridiculous situation. Thoroughly recommended.

Anyway, following the initial Patient Zero came Dragon Factory and The King of Plagues. Each with their own new challenges for the developing Echo Team. Relationships and friendships built. Challenges were faced, adversities overcome, and each would make a fine standalone adventure. But, building behind the scenes, a bigger story started to emerge. A shadowy organisation (of Kings) bent on twisting the world for their own purposes. And lurking in the shadows, given nothing more than a throwaway moment, someone else.

Which brings us to Assassin's Code. The theme of each of the books so far has been to take a genetically-modified twist on some classics - zombies, dragons, etc. This time we're treated to vampires, in the name of terrorism. Being only the fourth book in the series, this is still early enough to feel fresh, and gives a nice little take on the vampire mythos. Some familiar characters reappear, to greater and lesser degrees. And there's the usual mix of excitement, adventure, action and suffering. Maberry has a nice touch when writing action and fight scenes - enough technical info to feel interesting, without overloading. Echo Team, at this point, have their core membership and their new members (which seems to be a now standard format in the books), and as with the previous titles, no one is safe. Knowing that Maberry is not afraid to kill off established or new characters lends a nice sense of risk to every scene. (And yes, two of those deaths are brutal and upsetting. I will miss those characters.)

Joe continues to evolve, and from the initial Echo Team encounter spends a good half of the book working in isolation from his teammates, accompanied only by Ghost - although relations between the two end up a little strained. Joe's backstory is expanded on a little more - the history of what led to his psyche fracturing a little, and it's nice to see that he hasn't immediately moved on from loves lost. I find Joe to be a surprisingly engaging lead, rooting for him in action, and more than once laughing at his snarkiness. His interactions with his team, Ghost, adversaries, superiors, and a potential new... partner, continue to delight. The overall story contains vamps, genetics, a race to find nuclear bombs, and a few other things which would be implausible in lesser hands (can you tell that I'm trying to avoid spoilers here?). Which makes for an ideal story.

However, it's the behind-the-scenes action which raises the interest another notch. After the introduction of the Kings earlier, I suspect a pattern will be to see them returning again and again in different incarnations and/or roles. Assassin's Code uses two Kings to varying effect, and brings in another old character (marking their third, and presumably not last, appearance). Beyond them, another figure starts to move into prominence, and in doing so brings a noticeable and not fully-comfortable shift in the tone of the books. Where previously the zombies and the dragons and the vampires had been genetically modified creatures, with at least some basis in nature and/or science, this figure seems to be fully routed in the supernatural. Certainly his actions and abilities seem immediately unexplainable by conventional methods. How this pans out, we'll have to wait and see.

The only other niggle I have is that all four books appear to have taken place in the space of a year. That's a tough year. And I'm not really sure that Joe and his team actually have any time to recover - mentally, emotionally, physically. Other than that, it's a hell of a book. Thoroughly enjoyable - accessible to people new to the series, but you'll benefit far more from having read the first three.
Profile Image for Paul.
96 reviews
September 22, 2012
Ok, full disclosure. I have read the earlier books in this series and I liked them so I preordered this on my nook.

When it came in I consumed it quickly. I loved the science combined with the weird religious stuff. Very fun, kinda funky plot revolving around vampires!

Yep, no one but Maberry could or should try and make Vampires sound scientifically valid in my opinion. Very nice twist on the undead.

I loved the final sentence! With the ass kicking the hero took he needed some hope for the future besides his dog living.

As usual Maberry pours on the psychological drama with his hero, one of his trademarks that differentiates his writing from the mainstream. I see that this series has been optioned for television. I hope they do it justice. Movies and TV don't always represent the author very well.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mike.
658 reviews41 followers
September 29, 2021
This was probably my favorite entry in the series so far. Books 1 and 2 (and 3 to an extent) leaned very hard into the "mad scientist" trope and all the villains so far have had a familiar element to them. Book 4 broadens the depth of Ledger's world a bit and steers a tiny bit out of the megalomaniac villain territory (but only just). I also think this book dipped a bit further into the weird than previous entries and I'm hoping we see more of that going forward.
Profile Image for Todd.
438 reviews
February 2, 2015
Not going to lie, to read this book I read the first 1/3, skipped the middle 1/3, and read the last 1/3. I felt like I got the same amount out of the book as if I would have read the whole thing. The Joe Ledger series has become rather formulaic and unexciting.

Most of the book goes like this:

Macho talk, Macho talk, characters say Oorah, Patriotic talk, Sexist talk, dumb self aware joke, main character cleverly grins after said dumb self aware joke.

crt-alt save and you have yourself a book.
Profile Image for Jen.
1,872 reviews159 followers
June 3, 2019
As much as I love Joe Ledger, I just couldn't keep going with this story. I got about halfway, but all the references to the church and the supernatural and rather horrific things in general - I just couldn't take it. I tried, I really did. But this story just pushed me out of my comfort zone when it comes to this kind of fiction.

That's not to say the narration wasn't absolutely AMAZING. Ray Porter is so talented!

And now I'm on to book 5, The Extinction Machine. I think aliens will be a welcome departure from all that supernatural stuff. I do love this series.
Profile Image for Anna Szabó.
469 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2020
Another horrifying and extremely crazy but still funny Joe Legder story.
This time Joe is up against an enemy he might not be able to defeat. I’m kidding! He and Ghost and Echo Team defeat everything and everyone.
Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 35 books434 followers
December 14, 2018
Having reviewed the prior Joe Ledger audiobooks, I'm not sure I can add much here. If you've liked the previous three volumes (plus a short story collection), odds are you'll dig Assassin's Code, too. And if you haven't enjoyed them by now, well, you're on your own.

Maberry packs in plenty of wit (Ledger referring to Iran's then-president Ahmadinejad as Armani Handjob was pretty funny, as was many Middle Easterners apparent obsession with destroying Joe's nutsack [yeah, sometimes my funny-bone can be easy to tickle, what can I tell ya], and the squad's disbelief over their foe du jour was used to good effect with some nicely added reminders that "this time a year ago, we were shooting zombies!") amidst all the violence as Echo Team squares off against another horror genre staple that just might be their toughest opponent so far.

Ledger continues to be a great character, Bunny and Top continue to be excellent compadres, and the assassin Violin is a groovy addition. Narrator Ray Porter is freaking incredible behind the mic. 'Nuff said.

I dug Assassin's Code, but didn't find it to be quite as compelling as prior entries. Still, lots of fun to be had here and Maberry had me worrying about a few particular Echo Team members in the excruciating and violent finale. Good stuff.
Profile Image for Robin.
1,236 reviews3 followers
April 12, 2012
It's refreshing to see talk about the Middle East that doesn't embrace hatred. I enjoyed the approach to religious tolerance, though I felt a little sorry for Captain Ledger when I learned that he believes in god, which is just silly for a man who has seen what he has seen. I am choosing to believe that it was one of his minor personality splinters who said that, though it was probably really the rule-accepting Civilized Man.

Jonathan Maberry has an amazing ability to describe an action sequence and get me to follow it. This is particular impressive, as this is hard for me to do even with a movie, and in books they usually confuse me enough that I just give up and skim to the end to find out who wins. The action shots in this book, though, I genuinely enjoyed reading them. It was like my younger days, when I had just discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs, and I got to travel through the treetops with Tarzan, except of course that the action that Joe Ledger sees is a good bit less jolly than that seen by Tarzan.

Profile Image for Rob.
689 reviews95 followers
August 6, 2014
2.5 stars.

A bit of a misstep for the usually reliable Maberry. All the usual pieces of the Joe Ledger series are present in this fourth book: international intrigue, tough guy dialogue, vaguely supernatural bad guy, and a whole lot of punching. I don't know if it's because the series is starting to feel a little threadbare or because Maberry just hit a fallow patch, but not much here works. Even the premise – vampires have nukes! – feels strained. There's some good stuff (especially the discovery of Arklight, an all-female group of assassins), but the usually sharp dialogue feels clunky, the humor is forced, and the book spends way too long on setup and not enough on payoff. There's also some quasi-Anne Rice foolishness where the main narrative is interrupted to cut back in time several hundred years to reveal how the vampires were created. I'm such a fan of Maberry that I hate knocking one of his books, but I do it only because I know he can write – and has written – better.
Profile Image for Kate.
965 reviews13 followers
September 16, 2016
I love the Joe Ledger books! He has the best adventures, the best sense of humor and the best crew. Enough said. I'm on to the next one.
Profile Image for Pranta Ghosh Dastider.
Author 17 books277 followers
October 27, 2021
I think, best in the series so far! So many twists, actions, secrets and helplessness. And revenge! Hell yah! Exactly that much sweet it was! Thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Profile Image for Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews).
601 reviews205 followers
March 20, 2012
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2012/03/...

Joe Ledger is back in the 4th thriller from Jonathan Maberry! I’m a huge fan of this series, and have loved every one, so I was eager to dive back into Joe’s world. The day after Joe and Echo Team rescue a group of college students held hostage in Iran, Joe is sitting in a coffee shop with a laser sight trained on his groin. He gets a call and a mysterious female voice gives him very specific instructions to meet a man in the coffee shop. It’s not like he has much choice. I mean, there are laser sights trained on his, er, man parts! Just a day in the life of our man Joe, yes? Trouble tends to follow Joe around, and he’s about to discover just what kind of trouble has found him, and it’s the worst yet…

Poor Joe. The author really puts him through the ringer in this one, physically and emotionally. A particularly nasty blast from Joe’s past is on the loose, vampires are running amok, an ancient order is bent on destruction, nuclear bombs are in the hands of mad men, and Joe can’t catch a break. Seriously, Joe is constantly fighting in this one, and it seems no place is safe. His loyal dog Ghost is always at his side, and even Ghost is run ragged. I think one thing I really love about Joe is that he’s willing to do what needs to be done, even if things get a bit unpleasant, and yet, all the while, he fights with himself, with the Warrior within who craves the fight. This struggle just makes an almost superhuman man seem more human and never fails to make me like him more. Of course Joe has the support of the DMS, and his boss, Mr. Church on his side, but he also acquires some unlikely allies, my favorite being in the form of a lethal assassin that calls herself Violin. I’m sincerely hoping we’ll see more of her in future books.

Assassin’s Code is mainly told in Joe’s voice, but there are Interludes and passages where the narrative takes us back to the 9th century, and the history behind an ancient, terrifying pact. Also, we get a bit of insight into the other players in the book. I’ll admit, while I enjoyed these passages, I was always eager to get back to Joe, Ghost, and Echo Team as they race to find the nukes and get the baddies. And the baddies in this one are really, really bad, and nearly take Joe down for the count, more than once. Maberry’s fight scenes are action packed, exciting, and written so well, I never had trouble picturing what was going on; Joe’s trademark snark is on full blast here (it will make you laugh, even when the bullets-stakes, holy water, garlic, etc-are flying), and the core of humanity that is ever present in these books is always just beneath the surface, even when you think things have gotten that bad. Things do get bad in this one, very bad, but have faith in Joe. When has he ever let us (or the world) down? The series just gets better and better, and I read Assassin’s Code in big gulps, frequently losing track of time. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books267 followers
March 14, 2013
In my trade, confidence is built on a platform whose legs are made up of good intelligence, continuous training, proper equipment, and field support. I had a sick dog, a dead man’s gun, a stolen briefcase, a vampire hunter’s stake in my belt, and a cell phone…

Joe’s dealt with zombies, the island of Dr. Moreau, and the Seven Plagues of Egypt. Surely nothing can surprise him now. At least that’s what he thinks.

After rescuing American college students held hostage in Iran, Joe is contacted with the alarming news that the Iranians want his help in locating six stolen nuclear bombs. Nukes are soon the least of Joe’s problems when he’s attacked by super-powered killers who are probably genetically engineered and may actually be unbeatable. Certainly, it’s the first time he’s been told to “run away” when he calls Mr. Church for orders. The mysterious assassin Violin, with her mommy issues, adds an intriguing element that I liked, although her name made me snicker. Whose side is she really on? Toss in the mysterious Book of Shadows together with an age-old Holy Inquisition* that’s gone off the rails and you’ve got a fast-paced thriller with the usual slight touch of science needed to make us wonder “could it happen…” As usual Joe is sarcastic but has the heart of a warrior so he never quits.

As always, Ray Porter IS Joe Ledger. As I’ve said before, his narration is the reason I wait for the audio books instead of snapping up the printed versions. He’s got a direct, blunt delivery that can go from sarcastic to heart-felt to outraged in 60 seconds. Believably. That’s good because sometimes that’s the way Joe’s day goes.

The fourth entry to the Joe Ledger series piles surprise upon surprise until there are so many moving parts you need a score card to keep up. That’s ok. The ride is most of the fun anyway. It was refreshing to see Echo Team on an assignment that didn’t involve anything supernatural or genetically engineered. It also explained why Joe is sometimes incredulous about the strange situations in which he becomes embroiled. He’s so deep into rescuing college kids that he just plain forgets about his first zombie killing assignment.

Yeah right.

That excuse doesn’t really work for the many times that people who should know better protest, “What? Supernatural? That’s just crazy!” That really is the weakest part of these stories. Shouldn’t Echo Team be surprised if there isn’t a monster or super-villain somewhere in the shadows?

This was a return to the Joe Ledger adventure style of the first book in a way, which I liked very much. It also satisfactorily tied up some loose ends that had been accumulating through the last book or two. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed the previous books.

NOTE: This book was originally reviewed for SFFaudio.

* Catholics needn’t worry. Maberry plays fast and loose with elements but he’s generally respectful of religions. Any Catholics involved in this were lied to, folks. Lied to!
Profile Image for Janie Johnson.
890 reviews131 followers
April 8, 2014
Is it even remotely possible that this book could get any better than it's predecessors? Well I can answer that question and it is yes! Although the other 3 were 5 stars and were most excellent, this one went a step further I think. I am not usually one for military, terrorism and the like, so when and author can make me like reading about those things, then he has a great talent! This series revolves around terrorism in one form or another. Each book is a different form and they just keep getting better, rich in imagery and great plot lines.

I have to talk about the things I like best about this book, or actually any of the books. First would be the characters. They are all so rich in realism, so believable and brilliantly created. The Echo Team consists of so many great, unforgettable characters. Of course most people who know me would know by now who my favorite character is, but just in case there is a question about it, I will tell you. Joe! He is now my favorite character EVER! And that is saying a lot. Because I have read a lot of books, and met a lot of great characters. Move over Roland, Joe is in the forefront now.

What I love most about Joe is his flawed character. It makes him superbly believable and I love that. Joe is the kind of guy that takes all those mistakes, all his fears and all his past failures and triumphs and he uses it to drive him forward. He is the kind of guy that never gives up. And when I say never I mean never. He is also witty and sarcastic and he loves those people in his life like family and would do what it takes to protect them. He lives with 3 personalities in his head, Cop, Warrior, and the Civilized man. And he learned to control them and use them appropriately.

The next thing I love about this book/series is the amount of action that is in the book. It was just about non stop through all of them. A lot of what happens you don't quite expect, pair that with the great plot twists and you have an exciting, unforgettable story. I would have to recommend this book to everyone. I think everyone should jump aboard and form their own relationship with Joe. Because once you do, you will never forget the ride.
Profile Image for Jeff Miller.
1,110 reviews169 followers
May 15, 2013
The Joe Ledger books are like the summer blockbuster with lots of action and doomsday plots and multiple hidden organizations competing against each other. They also have some depth to them in the characterization of Ledger who is a bit more than the action star. In fact the hero seems to be self-consciously aware of portrayal of the action star killing people and emitting one-liner.

One problem when you have a series a books each trying to top each other with the next doomsday scenario that must be stopped is that they can get more outlandish. I felt this was the case in this book. Previous books in the series mainly had high-tech bad guys crafting zombies viruses, bio-engineering etc. So semi-plausable science fiction that you can easily play along with.

The plot of this one annoyed me a bit. Mainly because just once I would like to see a thriller that mentions the Crusades, the Inquisition, Saladin, etc that actually had some historical idea of what they were talking about. Here we had basically a B-Movie horror plot element plot combined with some Dan Brown-like idiocy. Secret assassin groups that have survived for centuries with semi-Church approval. Sure I have no problems with inventive plot elements even highly-unlikely ones in a book of this type. Yet his mixture here did not gel for me and I admit it is mostly because there is just so much historical ignorance along these lines. That combined with some relativism along religious lines did not help or that the "staunch" and "devout" Catholic character apparently had no problem with fornication.

Regardless I still enjoyed it for what it was.

Profile Image for Tad.
374 reviews48 followers
April 10, 2012
Assassin’s Code: A Joe Leger Novel is a fast-paced thriller with a slightly paranormal edge. Joe Ledger is an engaging hero. He is tough, but not superhuman, with a wise-cracking sense of humor, a split personality and a scarred pysche. Along with the team Joe commands is his dog, Ghost. I worried that the dog would either be a throwaway character or would otherwise be distracting. Instead, Ghost was a solid character in his own right, and an effective foil for Joe in what might otherwise be interior monologues.

Assassin’s Code is not a conventional thriller, it is a little over the top and a bit fantastical. But in a tremendously entertaining way. The plot involves stolen nukes, ancient shadowy organizations that date back to the Crusades, and vampires. Put it all together and you wind up with a page-turning thriller that holds your attention from beginning to end and leaves you wanting more. Jonathan Maberry is a skilled writer with a great imagination. I wasn’t even finished reading this book before I’d ordered more books in the series.

This was my first time reading this author and this series. Reading the earlier books may have given me a deeper appreciation of the characters, but it read fine as a stand alone book. Assassin’s Code is great fun and everything you expect in an action adventure thriller. Highly recommended. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book from netgalley.
Profile Image for Aaron Advani.
420 reviews7 followers
April 26, 2019
Another brilliant book by Jonathan Maberry which follows the insanely hectic and dangerous life of Joe Ledger, each book has gotten better and better ramping up the stakes and thrills to an extremely high level each time out.
These books don't fall into any one genre but for me straddle two, horror and thriller which jonathan pulls off with seemingly great ease, the lead character Joe is a man that has alot of personal baggage and inner personalities that fight to come to the fore, which they do when the situation calls for them.
He has his flaws, is straight talking which doesn't immediately endear him to the reader but as this series has progressed you get to understand him alot more than you did in the beginning and start to empathise with him and the situations he finds himself in.
I hope this series runs for a few more books yet as I feel we are only just getting to the meat of the story.
If you like your reads fast, gory and intelligently written then this is for you.
Profile Image for Brittney.
30 reviews4 followers
March 19, 2012
So Joe Ledger and Echo Team are up to their chins in it again. Poor Joe seems to be losing his mind-just a little. He is also separated from his team for the better part of the novel, which, if you know Joe, just means that his personal body count went up significantly. He has help from an outside source that he's not sure what to think of, as well as his dog, Ghost. And the threat this time is more deadly and immediate than any he has faced so far with the DMS. The bad guys are sufficiently creepy (enough to scare the pants off Joe), and they seem to be coming from all sides. There are some recurring charcters in this one. Some who's motives might surprise, others that you would expect nothing less from. And Mr. Church allows us to learn just a little more about his life and who he may be or once was. This one will rewrite history, folks!
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