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Joe Ledger #1.3

Deep, Dark

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This chilling short story is the prequel to The Dragon Factory, the second installment in Maberry's action-packed Joe Ledger novels.

Before Baltimore cop Joe Ledger goes up against two competing groups of geneticists looking to continue the master-race program in The Dragon Factory, he must battle another foe using human test subjects for his sinister plans.

1 pages, Audible Audio

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Jonathan Maberry

473 books7,032 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
413 (38%)
4 stars
430 (39%)
3 stars
217 (20%)
2 stars
21 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews
Profile Image for Estevam (Impish Reviews).
194 reviews14 followers
February 14, 2020
This was different, it had a lot more terror and body horror than on the previous novels and I liked it a lot, in this story, we follow Joe Ledger as he is called to clean up the mess made by some scientist that was trying to develop super-soldiers by crossing human DNA with a strain of insect DNA that they thought was quite resistant, the objective is to create a kind of soldier that could fight in any environment even if it was affected by nuclear waste, so as you can already imagine they dropped the ball, Hard, and so the DMS is called and our story begins.
This one was very good because it had some dubious morale by the part of the scientists and by some decisions that are taken by our protagonist by the end of the story it is as the previous ones very quick but not as action-packed as I mentioned at the beginning of the review this one has a lot more horror elements that usually are seem in the paranormal sub-genre of horror so it was different but it was different at just the right amount and again i recommend to any fans of this series and people who like horror and action.
Profile Image for Sinisa Mikasinovic.
136 reviews26 followers
January 11, 2017
Deep, Dark was... different. More in line with Material Witness, previous short story, than general feel of Joe Ledger novels.

Less "pew pew", more "I'm going to scare you!". I absolutely loved it.

I'm not claustrophobic any more than the next guy, but man this was tense.

Secret government underground laboratory where things went to hell due to an ongoing terrorist attack is indeed dug in quite deep. And it was also very dark. And in that same dark they patiently waited.

It's good that Echo team went in, because I sure as hell wouldn't!

Remember that underground lair in the 4th novel in this series Assassin's Code?
It had nothing on this research facility! Maberry did well to instill feeling of dread with each new page. Damn him for writing awesome books.

Oh, and it's a perfect intro to the next book in the main series, The Dragon Factory!

Just like Maberry, Ray Porter was nothing short of epic again, either.
I hope they both live forever and never get bored of doing this!

Clean sheet.
Profile Image for Jen.
1,872 reviews159 followers
May 24, 2019
Yikes. Genetic mutation at it's worst - bugs! Ewwwww!

But Joe Ledger is always fabulous and so is Ray Porter.
Profile Image for Cam.
1,037 reviews2 followers
March 18, 2022
Gene splicing on soldiers that turn into something else besides killing machine for the army oooo my!!! I need to pick his books up again and start reading them.
Profile Image for Storm.
1,986 reviews3 followers
April 14, 2022
Collected in Joe Ledger: Special Ops and Joe Ledger: The Missing Files, this is short story #1.3 in the Joe Ledger series, it is the immediate prequel to The Dragon Factory. Joe Ledger, Top and Bunny have been called in to handle a terrorist threat at The Vault, an Ultra High Security Biological Research Facility that happens to be located underground. Already I am getting a bad feeling about this.

The briefing is scant on details except the 4 dead were "bitten" to death, by ... the supposed terrorists. Before more questions can be asked, klaxons sound, the lights go off and everything is plunged into darkness. A vent has been pushed out ... there are strange, scratchy, clicking noises in the dark tunnels, and something BIG seems to hunting them. The scientist eventually admits that they performed gene sequencing genetic engineering experiments on soldiers that have been discharged from the army due to injury, but hey the soldiers signed all their rights away.

The goal is to create a super soldier, able to with stand pollution and radiation, so the country will still have military superiority in case the planet's ecology is hosed. The genes used were from insects. By now I'm completely creeped out, picturing the claustrophobic survival horror lab tunnel movies/games like Doom, Resident Evil or Dead Space.

It doesn't take Joe long to figure out WHAT really happened, and as a soldier, he ends up sympathizing with James Collins - a young soldier injured in Afghanistan, who signed up for the super soldier program due to his patriotism but ended up becoming nothing but a glorified lab rat. The passage with Joe's internal monologue is one of the most moving things I've read in military sci-fi.


By now Joe's moral compass has asserted itself and he's not wrong either.
"It was the dirty end of a dirty job."

This might have been short, but it's a great story especially on audio book. The narrator, Ray Porter, does an excellent job voicing the characters and making the click and scratching sounds that made me feel the fear and horror of being underground being stalked by monsters. Joe's inner moral compass really sets him apart from the run-of-the-mill military action heroes, and that's what makes Jonathan Maberry's books a cut above most others.
Profile Image for Garrett Fisher.
26 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2019
Simply the Best

Before I got into the hundreds of zombie and post apocalyptic/dystopian thrillers I read patient zero. This whole series is the bar, in my humble opinion, I rate all other books. Deep Dark brought back all those feelings when your immersed in a truly great story. I lost my complete collection and everything I owned, another story, guess I’ll have to rent purchase them now. Thank You for reading this and thank you for giving us Joe Ledger!!!
Profile Image for James Biser.
2,962 reviews17 followers
July 22, 2021
So far, this is my favorite, although most horrifying of the Joe Ledger stories. He and his team continue to hunt the zombie-like mutants. In this story we discover that the mutants are much more advanced than simple zombies. We also learn that the American military is researching and creating the mutants. Joe and his team are being sent to kill ALL of the mutants, even the American monsters.
Profile Image for Robert Chapman.
501 reviews46 followers
June 23, 2017
This is the third short story follow-up to Patient Zero. As with the preceding short story, this story isn't directly related to Patient Zero other than it involves the DMS's Echo Team.

This story features Echo Team and Joe Ledger at their best and let's just say has a fitting ending.
Profile Image for Benjamin  Thomas.
404 reviews68 followers
October 9, 2018
Jonathan Maberry writes some of the best short stories I've read so far. Full of action, plot, tension, suspense, character. This one was a good lead into the next book, THE DRAGON FACTORY - Joe Ledger #2. Great series.
34 reviews
June 20, 2019
I don't know about anyone else but I got a feeling of claustrophobia reading this. Great story that is a prequel to The Dragon Factory and involves the locker that is mentioned in Code Zero. I loved this story!
Profile Image for Bryan .
280 reviews
June 6, 2021
This short episodic is an excellent little contribution to the Joe ledger series. It had the emotional power of patient zero and fit perfectly into the horror genre that contributes to oddities he faces.
Profile Image for David.
597 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2018
Deep, Dark Gets Better Everytime I read it! Government Lies that change the lives of unknowing citizens with the idea they are helping all citizens are the worst lies.
Profile Image for Angela.
1,772 reviews23 followers
June 9, 2021
Listened to this as I did my errands today - creepy, and a little sad- also a bit of a commentary on how our (US) government treats their soldiers - they are NOT property.
Profile Image for Nancy.
551 reviews5 followers
November 20, 2021
"Deep Dark" was a dark short story and worth the read. Excellent.
Profile Image for Emma.
350 reviews2 followers
February 1, 2023
Very much enjoying this series. This short story was fun.
Profile Image for Michelle.
302 reviews8 followers
May 3, 2014
Question: When will scientist stop trying to play god?

Answer: Never. For it is because of this we've had many breakthroughs, not just medically but technologically as well.

While this may not necessarily be a bad thing in the 'real world', in storyland its a whole different ball game. Especially when it comes to the Government intervening in hopes of garnering more sound ways to fight in/against war.

In this particular story our hero Joe Ledgar is once again called in. As thee reader you automatically know its not for anything good. He seems to be the go to guy when someones butt needs kicking and if necessary, put down in that eternal rest. In Deep, Dark he not only does this but it's up to him to clean up a mess made by our very own government.

It seems that scientists have been tasked to create super soldiers. Using the very people who fight for our freedoms, soldiers, as human test subjects, the scientist look to gene splice their DNA with certain insect traits and of course things don't go as expected thus horror ensues.
Profile Image for Steph.
1,912 reviews272 followers
February 4, 2016
Read as a part of anthology: Joe Ledger: The Missing Files
Rating: ✮✮✮ ½

Before former Baltimore cop Joe Ledger goes up against competing geneticists looking to continue the master-race program in The Dragon Factory, he must battle another foe using human test subjects for his sinister plans.

A quick look at just how twisted scientists can be when they believe what they're doing is for the best for humanity.
16 reviews
January 26, 2014
Great short story. I would love to see this fleshed out into something a bit longer though. Maybe a novella. What I didn't quite get was how this was a prequel story to The Dragon Factory, unless it's just set before that book chronologically. Again, the author makes the reader wonder what might really be happening in our world that we don't know about or want to know about. Genetics manipulation is quite a hot topic and a great starting place for Jonathan's type of fiction.
Profile Image for Robin.
1,236 reviews3 followers
March 14, 2012
One of the things that I like about Mr. Maberry is that he can write an action sequence that I will actually read. This is fortunate, as this very short work is packed with more doings than you can shake an antenna at. It's a teaser story only in the sense that I am even more excited about the new Ledger coming out next month.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews

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