Review: Patient Zero (Joe Ledger 1)

by Jonathan Maberry 

Gollancz, out now

Baltimore cop Joe Ledger is brought into an elite government department who are battling what appear to be zombies…

One of the recent trends in horror fiction sees standard archetypes (vampires, werewolves, zombies etc) treated as if they were real, with the protagonists and everyone else living in the everyday world, where such things are the subject of TV and film. Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series has successfully created complete substrata beneath human society, while Jonathan Maberry follows the 28 Days Later approach, giving a scientific rationale for the creation of the zombies.

While there’s some cheesy dialogue scattered throughout the novel, on the whole this fits well into the Tom Clancy technothriller world: it just happens to be zombies not terrorists who are the enemy! The action is well written, with some very tense sequences that don’t stint on the necessary gore.

While the sections featuring Joe Ledger work very well, the portions with the villains aren’t as effective – too many point of view changes means we learn too much too soon, and the final twist isn’t as effective as it should be.

However if you’re after a fast-paced action thriller with a high violence quotient, Patient Zero fits the bill.  7/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Patient Zero from


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