Maberry’s fifth entry in the Joe Ledger series combines conspiracy theories, aliens, corrupt government agencies and tons of action/adventure.
Capt. Joe Ledger, a former police detective who is now an operative for the highly secretive Department of Military Sciences, and his team once again face foes coming from every corner. Ledger’s problems start when he is targeted by a group of dangerous men who aim to put him, his team and his agency out of the picture for good. This convoluted tale, which switches back and forth from Ledger’s present to the past, from country to country and from Ledger’s first-person point of view to third-person omniscient, puts readers into the heads of everyone, from Chinese generals to hardened killers. The plot revolves around the kidnapping of the president, who is abducted from the White House in the middle of the night by what appears to be an alien craft that leaves behind distinctive crop circles. Meanwhile, dial back a few decades and the Chinese are busy manipulating some odd aircraft in order to get the jump on the West. Ledger, who is having an affair with a beautiful assassin named Violin, is called in to find out what is going on with the president. While he is out with his combat dog, Ghost, his apartment is invaded and torn to pieces by men sent to take him, and the DMS, down. The confusing plot meanders around, jumping from villain to protagonist in rapid succession and even throwing in a group referred to as the “men in black,” along with an enigmatic woman with an eidetic memory and over-the-top bad guys by the score. Although Ledger is presented as a killing machine with a patriotic side, as a character, he is so soaked in blood and testosterone that he comes off as cartoonish.
What could have been a fun romp turns into a cliché-ridden tale so confusing that most readers will need a whiteboard to keep track of the characters and plot points.