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Publisher's Summary

From multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author Jonathan Maberry comes a major new thriller that combines the best of the New York Times best-selling books World War Z by Max Brooks and James Rollins’ Sigma Force Series to kick off the start of a new series featuring Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences.

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills - and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills. And that’s both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because he’s a Baltimore detective who has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new task force created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle. This rapid-response group is called the Department of Military Sciences, or the DMS for short. It’s bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bioweapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Jonathan Maberry is the New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award–winning author of Ghost Road Blues, the first of a trilogy of thrillers with a supernatural bite. A professional writer and writing teacher, he has sold more than 1.000 articles, 17 nonfiction books, six novels, and two plays.

©2009 Jonathan Maberry (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Brilliant, shocking, horrifying, it puts the terror back in terrorist.” (James Rollins, New York Times best-selling author)
“Plenty of man-to-zombie combat, a team traitor and a doomsday scenario add up to a fast and furious read.” ( Publishers Weekly)
"Jonathan Maberry has found a delightful voice for this adventure of Joe Ledger and his crew: while the action is heated, violent, and furious, the writing remains cool, steady, and low-key, framing all the wildness and exuberance in a calm rationality (given an almost comic edge) that renders it as palatable as your favorite flavor of ice cream." (Peter Straub)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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Drop Dead and get back up great.

While others are thinking about what to do, Joe Ledger is getting it done. If you take a second to think, Joe will kick your ass, he pulls no punches, he is balls out all the way.

The book is funnier then a John Scalzi novel, Scarier then Stephen King and weirder then Dean Koontz.

The Department of Military Science, seems to be the action side of the X-Files. It is run by Mr Church, but who is Mr. Church? People used to say Who is John Gault, but now they will be saying Who is Mr. Church?

Don't get me wrong this is no comic book fluff, this is well-written stuff. Some say it is not literature, but I dare you to say that in front of John Maberry. He even knows how to use chapters, something that seems to confuse most modern Science Fiction writers.

This is the best book I have listened to since I started listening and that is hundreds of books.

Ray Porter does an excellent, excellent job. If I could give Seven Stars I would give it to him.

178 of 186 people found this review helpful

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Yes! It IS that good. Five stars and more.

Lots of people have reviewed this book already so I will just aim my comments to those (like me) who hesitate to get this because of the cartoonish cover art and well the whole zombies thing. I like zombie fiction but eventually it does get pretty predictable. This book is not your typical run and shoot zombies take over the world tale. It is not a gratuitous gore-fest. The story has multiple layers, science, mysteries within mysteries, strong characters, and intrigue that will keep you guessing and glued to your earphones to the last word. Yes, it is that good. And Ray Porter’s performance is flawless perfection.

191 of 200 people found this review helpful

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I enjoyed it but . . .

Would you consider the audio edition of Patient Zero to be better than the print version?

I've never read the print version

Any additional comments?

I am not a big zombie fiction fan. I bought this book based upon reviews that indicated it wasn't a typical zombie book. It wasn't, but that doesn't change that there are many, many zombie interactions.

I liked the plot aspects of the book very much. I think the storyline was well thought out with a plot that had some scientific basis. The problem I have is that I don't need to hear about repeated tedious battles with overwhelming hordes of zombies where our heroes manage to never get killed despite all odds. It gets tedious. Don't get me wrong, there were good ideas here and good writing. The narration by Ray Porter was wonderful. But even in the fictional world of the hero who can do it all no matter what, this got to be a little too much for me.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda
  • Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 04-04-12

My vote for narrator of the year.

This book is (at the time of this review) the first of three books in "Joe Ledger" series. For fellow fans of Lee Child, Joe Ledger can be described as Jack Reacher, with less of a vigilante bend, and far more high tech toys.

This is not, in my opinion, a bad thing.

In my experience it's rare to find a "hero" of a thriller that still expresses disbelief and horror at the things he sees and does, and I found it refreshing. The pace was very good, and the short chapters and constant countdown kept it moving along swimmingly. I appreciated that the various villains had varying levels of "evilness", and the humor inserted regularly kept me chuckling to myself.

The real hero of these books (both this and the following two in the series, which I read in quick succession) was Ray Porter, the narrator. He's absolutely amazing in his delivery, and his performance alone makes this book more than worthwhile. It really amazed me. He lent a depth to the character that really put the book on a whole other level.

I recommend this book, and overall I recommend the following two books as well.

68 of 75 people found this review helpful

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  • adam
  • coralville, IA, United States
  • 10-26-10

First rate zombie fiction!

This is just an absolutely great action/adventure/zombie tale. Fun, fast paced, and even funny this novel marks the first in what is the Joe Ledger series - I really enjoyed this one and can't wait for the next. As icing on the cake Ray Porters narration is perfect, and I mean perfect. Every character has their very distict voice, there is never any question of who is speaking and he moves seemlessly between them. Of the thousands of audio books I've listened to this is one of the best performances I have heard. I will be looking for more books narrated by him simply because they ARE narrated by him.

55 of 64 people found this review helpful

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24 + james bond + zombies, whew! great book!

Any additional comments?

great zombie novel...really, it is. i was skeptical at first b/c of the terrorist angle. i thought it was kind of dumb, but i decided to give it a try based on the reviews. i don't always agree with the reviews, but this time, i do! i must say this is a realistic twist on zombie fiction. there is real science behind how a zombie could be made. very interesting.

don't be afraid of the line that he has to kill the same terrorist twice in one week. again, i was kind of turned off by that, but i still gave it a try, and boy am i sure glad i did! that was a great scene! i mean great!

the bad guys are great. they are over the top, but definitely in a good way. great character development all around!

imagine the show 24 mixed with james bond. joe ledger is jack bauer and james bond. the story is fast-paced and hard to put down.joe ledger is the man! he's funny and kicks some serious butt. i'm glad he's not a womanizer like bond.

the fight scenes are realistic, excellently described, and flow seamlessly with the action. the science and tech is really cool. they add to the story and aren't boring or over your head. cool like tom clancy.

after reading the first book, patient zero, i really wanted to know how the story continues. i initially picked up this book b/c of the zombie slant, but i am now a huge joe ledger fan!

ray porter is an excellent narrator. top flight. he can perform different ranges of voices and different accents very well. he intones emotions like no one else i've heard. best i've heard yet.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • W. Brooks
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 05-25-16

I wouldn't have guessed I'd love it

First things first. I'm not a fan of zombie stories, so I had NO interest in this book. But the good reviews for it kept nagging me, especially those from people like me who don't read zombie books. Hey folks, EVERYTHING about this book is awesome. Great story,m. The plot is even believable despite being about zombies. Hey, it could happen - at least in your mind. The lead character is a wise ass, but you like him. The action scenes are tight. Good ending. And the narrator, Ray Porter, is one of the best.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very, very good.

This was my first "zombie" novel. I had expectations of something decent, something to please the zombie fanatic out there and not much else. Well, it did please me as a zombie fanatic. It not only pleased me as a fan of the zombie genre but it thrilled me as a reader. This was an over all very good book. If I were reading the physical book itself I would call it a "page turner". This is not only for the zombie fan but also for the action fan, the covert ops fan and even the conspiracy theory fan. No, it's not Dickens, but it is fun, fast paced and not dumbed down. Really it was a treat. Very well written and boy, the narrator was superb. I could re-listen immediately. I certainly hope there is a follow-up.

33 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • john
  • Florissant, MO, United States
  • 02-10-12

Great Story. Horrible Characters

What disappointed you about Patient Zero?

My disappointment came from the story's characters. The protaganist Joe Ledger comes off like a high school brat with a smart mouth. Maberry fails when he tries to make this guy humorus. Joe Ledger's backstory is somewhat compelling but thats about it. Efrain Goodweather in Del Toro's The Strain series made for a much better and compelling character because it didn't seem as though Del Toro was trying too hard to make this guy a hero. Maberry just takes the easy way out and oversells this Ledger as a prototypical rebel hero.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

The plot was good. But I was not on the edge of my seat with it. Again the characters just didn't move the plot along well.

Which character – as performed by Ray Porter – was your favorite?

Ray Porter seems to have a great range of ability. However Maberry did not give him very much to work with as far as characters. Porter's performance was great but I didn't like any other characters

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It's a cool take on the zombie genre. I like what the story attempted to do.

Any additional comments?

I wish I hadn't paid for this audiobook. The Strain is superior in everyway to Patient Zero. Don't waste your time with this audiobook.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Story bogs down under the weight of mediocrity.

Any additional comments?

It is too bad that after being a member of Audible for a little over a year and listening to some excellent books that I have to start here, a rather mediocre thriller, but it is what it is and it's better to start now than not at all. I have gotten so much from reading others reviews that I thought I would throw my voice into the fire.

Ray Porter lifts this book from something that might not be listenable to a book just entertaining enough to not put down. I do prefer a few other narrators to Mr. Porter, Pacey and Brick, however he has the perfect voice for a thriller, or wanna-be in this case. So, if you are a major Porter fan and like your black ops mixed with a little zombie mayhem, this might be for you.

The major problem with Patient Zero is the lack of an engaging, dynamic central character. Although, Joe Ledger is a relatively interesting figure he is not compelling enough to unite the story lines into a cohesive narrative. His most prominent personality trait, other than being a lethal warrior, is that he is a smart ass, however this is not depicted in a unique manner that defines his character. It simply comes off as flippant, unbelievable and juvenile. If this was handled in a way that gave his personality distinction it might have served a purpose, unfortunately it doesn't and Ledger best friend the psychologist Ray becomes a much more compelling figure.

My last thought here is that you need a bad guy for this kind of story. At the beginning we are promised a type of mad scientist, a trope that approached properly could have been very successful in this type of story. We never got the mad scientist. Instead we have three different bad guys, well two guys and one woman, that have a sorted love story inside a malevolent end of the world plot. None of these figures gives us anything engaging enough to be concerned about or allow us to vent our hatred at what they are planning. They are benign and undefined. I personally didn't care what they were doing.

I have said nothing very positive about this novel, but that is not to say I did not enjoy it at moments. Some of the action scenes are very well orchestrated, beautifully described and addicting. Mostly, I had the feeling of guilty pleasure while listening. Like watching a movie that isn't very good but does offer enough action and mildly interesting plot twist's to keep you occupied until the end.

46 of 62 people found this review helpful