Assassin's Code (Joe Ledger Series #4)

Assassin's Code (Joe Ledger Series #4)

4.6 43
by Jonathan Maberry
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Maberry’s fourth genre-bending Joe Ledger supernatural horror-thriller (after 2011’s The King of Plagues) pits U.S. Department of Military Sciences agent Ledger against a variety of foes. After successfully rescuing several American tourists from Iranian prison, Ledger is called into a surprise meeting with a high-level Iranian operative who asks the DMS to locate and disable a number of missing nuclear devices. Somehow involved is Hugo Vox, a friend turned traitor and evil genius. Ledger soon discovers the true extent of a conspiracy stretching over centuries, involving multiple secret organizations and a vicious race of superhuman assassins. Backed by the mysterious agent known as Violin, Ledger struggles to stay alive while tracking down Vox and the nukes. Maberry delivers plenty of action, intrigue, and navel-gazing in a messy but fun story. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“Maberry delivers plenty of action.” —Publishers Weekly

“A fast-paced, brilliantly written novel. The hottest thriller of the New Year! In The King of Plagues, Jonathan Maberry reigns supreme.” —Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Athena Project, on The King of Plagues

“Joe Ledger and the DMS are back in their most brutal tale yet as they face off against a diabolical organization who is always one step ahead. As the sinister plot is exposed and the body count rises, THE KING OF PLAGUES is impossible to put down. Be prepared to lose some sleep.” —Jeremy Robinson, author of THRESHOLD and INSTINCT, on The King of Plagues

“While Joe has announced his retirement, eager readers can look forward to one more volume in this humorous, over-the-top cross-genre trilogy.” —Publishers Weekly on The Dragon Factory

“Like a video game on steroids mixed with The Island of Dr. Moreau.” —Booklist on The Dragon Factory

“[A] memorable book.” —Peter Straub, New York Times Bestselling author on Patient Zero

“Brilliant… puts the terror back in terrorist.” —James Rollins , New York Times bestselling author of The Judas Strain, on Patient Zero

Kirkus Reviews
Even protagonist Joe Ledger, hero of three previous Maberry novels (The King of Plagues, 2011, etc.), knows that the premise of his latest adventure is totally ridiculous: Ledger scoffs at the idea of vampires with nuclear bombs, and Maberry can't quite make a convincing case for them either. At first Ledger, an agent with the super-secret Department of Military Sciences, believes he's tracking some run-of-the-mill terrorists, who've planted several nuclear devices in various oil fields around the Middle East. But over the course of two intense, action-packed days, Ledger discovers a centuries-old conspiracy that involves a race known as the Upierczi, vampire-like creatures who are nearly immortal, drink blood, live in the shadows and are vulnerable to garlic. The Upierczi have been used as soldiers in a secret, ongoing pact between underground Christian and Muslim cabals to foster continued animosity between the two religions. Now the vampires are rising up against their masters, and they're using nuclear weapons as their tools of rebellion. As Ledger and his DMS cohorts race to find and disable the bombs, various other secretive factions maneuver to protect their interests and take out their enemies. After facing down zombies, hybrid monsters and weaponized biblical plagues in previous novels, Ledger still has a tough time wrapping his head around the whole vampire thing, and the novel never really gets past the silliness of its setup. The more Maberry piles on the secret societies and far-reaching conspiracies, the harder it is to invest in the seriousness of the story and in Ledger's angst about becoming a hollow killing machine. The sarcastic, skeptical Ledger is appealing enough, but his inner struggle (not to mention his potential romance with a deadly assassin known as Violin) is no match for Maberry's hokey adventure-serial plotting and popcorn-movie action sequences full of meaningless bluster. The story's fast pace helps it go down easy, but it's almost all empty calories.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312552206
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/10/2012
Series:
Joe Ledger Series , #4
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
108,533
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.08(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Starbox Coffee

Tehran, Iran

June 15, 7:23 a.m.

 

She said, “Look down at your chest.”

I held the cell phone to my ear as I bent my head. Two red dots, quivering slightly, danced right over my heart.

“You are one second away from death,” said the caller.

Chapter Two

Starbox Coffee

Tehran, Iran

June 15, 7:25 a.m.

I didn’t know the voice. She was a stranger. I didn’t know her name. Didn’t know anything except that she had my cell number. Ten seconds ago I was about to go into Starbox—yes, they really call it that in Iran—for a cup of bold and a couple of pastries. The street outside was empty.

I looked up. The shooters had to be in the building across the street, maybe the fifth floor. Didn’t really matter, the range was a hundred yards and even a sloppy marksman could punch my ticket at that distance. I doubted these guys were sloppy. And there were two of them. I was also pretty sure I knew why they were after me.

“Okay,” I said.

“I need you to confirm your name,” she said in Persian. She had a very sexy voice for a psycho killer. Low and smoky.

“Why?”

“Because I have to be certain.”

“Geez, sister,” I said, “if this is how you ID your targets then I don’t think you’re going to get that contract killer merit badge.”

The joke didn’t translate well but she made a sound. It might have been a laugh. Glad she was amused. Sweat was pouring down my spine. The two little laser sights gave me no chance at all to run.

“If this was simply a matter of killing you,” she said, “then we’d have done it and taken your wallet for identification.” She had a European accent but she was hiding it by trying to speak Persian like a native. Kind of weird. Not the weirdest thing going on at the moment.

“Um … thanks?” I said.

“Tell me your name,” she said again.

There had to be three of them. Two shooters and her. Was she the spotter? If not, there could have been one or two others, spotting for the gunmen. Or it might have been the three of them.

“Ebenezer Scrooge,” I said.

“No games,” she warned. “Your name.”

“Joe.”

“Full name.”

“Joseph.”

One of the laser sights drifted down from my chest and settled on my crotch.

“Once more?” she coaxed.

“Joseph Edwin Ledger.” No screwing around this time.

“Rank?”

“Why?”

“Rank?”

“Captain. Want my shoe size?”

There was a pause. “I was warned about you. You think you’re funny.”

“Everyone thinks I’m funny.”

“I doubt that’s true. How often do you make Mr. Church laugh out loud?”

“Never heard of him,” I lied.

Now I was confused. Up till now I thought she was part of a team looking to take me down for the little bit of nastiness I got into last night. Echo Team and I went into a high-security facility and liberated three twentysomethings who had been arrested a year ago while hiking in the mountains. The Iraqi mountains. An Iranian patrol crossed the border, nabbed the hikers, and started making noise in the media that the three hikers had illegally trespassed and therefore they were spies. They weren’t. One was a former Peace Corps team leader who was there with his animal behaviorist girlfriend who wanted to take photos of a kind of rare tiger to help her with her master’s thesis. Acinonyx jubatus venaticus. Asiatic cheetah. Also known as the Iranian cheetah. No, I’m not making this up.

The hikers had been used as pawns in Iran’s ongoing policy of stalling and disinformation regarding their nuclear program. Normally we’d let the State Department and world opinion exert pressure on the Iranian government … but the third member of the hiking party was the only son of one of America’s most important senators. The real twist is that the senator was a key player on several committees crucial to the U.S. war effort. Everyone with a spoonful of brains knew that the Iranians staged the whole thing to be able to turn dials on Senator McHale.

And it was starting to work. So the president asked Church to make the problem go away. We were Church’s response.

“So, who gets to slap the cuffs on me?” I asked.

This time she did laugh.

“No, Captain Ledger,” she said, “here’s how it’s going to work. As soon as I am done speaking you will turn off your cell phone and remove the battery and the SIM card. Put the SIM card and phone into different pockets. Walk to the curb and drop the battery into the culvert. Then I want you to go into the café. Order a coffee, sit in the corner. Do not reassemble your phone. Do not use the store’s phone. Write no notes to the staff or other customers. Sit and enjoy your coffee. Read the newspaper. Ahmadinejad is insisting that the dramatics at the prison last night were the result of a boiler explosion. You should find that amusing. Do not make any calls. Maybe have a second cup of coffee.”

“Do you work for Starbox? If so, I can’t say I dig your new marketing strategy.”

She ignored me. Her resistance to my wit was almost as disconcerting as the laser sights on my junk. Almost.

She said, “In a few minutes a person will enter the café. A man. He will recognize you and will join you. The two of you will have a conversation and then he will leave. Once he has left, you will wait another ten minutes before you reassemble your phone. You are on your own to find a new battery. You are supposed to be resourceful, so I imagine you will solve that problem without my advice.”

“Then what do I do?”

“Then,” she said, “you will do whatever you judge best.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“When do I meet you?”

“You don’t.”

“I’d like to.”

“No,” she said with another little laugh, “you would not.”

“Tell me something, miss, why go to these lengths? This could have been arranged with a lot less drama.”

“No it could not. If you are smarter than you appear, then you’ll understand why in a few minutes.”

“These laser sights going to be on me the whole time? It’s a lousy fashion statement and people will talk.”

There was a moment’s silence on the other end and then both sights vanished. I had to control myself from collapsing against the wall. I was pretty sure it would be two or three weeks before my nuts felt safe enough to climb down out of my chest cavity. My heart was beating like a jazz drum solo—loud, fast, and with no discernable rhythm.

“The clock is now ticking, Captain Ledger. Once I disconnect, please follow the instructions you have been given.”

“Wait—” I said, but the line went dead.

I held the phone in my hand and looked across the street to the office building. Even without the sights I knew they could take me anytime they wanted.

There were no real options left. Just because the laser sights weren’t on me didn’t mean that I was safe. I think they’d used them for effect. It was broad daylight; they certainly had scopes. So I did as I was told. I dismantled my phone and put the SIM card in my left coat pocket and the empty phone casing in my jeans. With great reluctance I walked to the edge of the pavement and stared for a moment down into the black hole of the culvert.

“Crap,” I said, and dropped the battery, which vanished without a trace. All I heard was a dull plop as it landed in the subterranean muck.

Before I turned to go into the store I scratched the tip of my nose with my forefinger. I was sure they’d see that, too.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jonathan Maberry

Meet the Author

Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestseller and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Patient Zero, the Pine Deep Trilogy, The Wolfman, Zombie CSU and They Bite. His work for Marvel Comics includes the Punisher, Wolverine, DoomWar, Marvel Zombie Return and Black Panther. His Joe Ledger series has been optioned for TV by Sony Pictures.

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Assassin's Code: A Joe Ledger Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
SilentMikeGA More than 1 year ago
Having read the previous books in the Joe Ledger series, I was extremely excited to see Assassin's code come along at the time of the year I'm usually enduring a bit of a dry spell regarding new reading material. The caustic, sarcastic dialogue of Joe Ledger never fails to bring a smile to my face, usually in the midst of some life-or-death situation in which the character frequently finds himself. The alternative history Maberry spins is well thought out and fully engaging. It really had me flashing back to what it felt like reading the Davinci Code. I can't wait to see what world of hurt he drops Joe Ledger into next.
jlgc More than 1 year ago
Assassin’s Code is one of the full length novels in the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry. Joe and his team are sent to Iran to rescue some hostages. Everyone makes it out except Joe. While waiting for his ride out of town, he is contacted by an enemy combatant and given a damaged USB drive. He is also attacked in his hotel room…by a person with super human strength. Fortunately, he appears to have acquired a guardian angel who takes out the intruder. Joe is then on the run, the supposed safe houses are no longer safe. He is also being pursued by another group of people, people who think they are vampire hunters and the Joe is a vampire. Silly people. The USB is analyzed and it is found that there are nuclear bombs that have been hidden away in very specific spots that are intended to cause mass chaos across the world. A master mind from previous Ledger novels makes an appearance here. He is working with several different groups of people causing his own chaos by pitting them against each other. This is a fast, non-stop action story. There is a lot going on in it but it is not difficult to follow. I enjoy the Joe Ledger stories very much and think you will too if you like military adventure, monsters, science fiction, and lots of action and explosions. If you haven’t read a Joe Ledger novel, you could go back to the first, Patient Zero. It explains the DMS. Or, you can jump right into this story and catch up with the others at a later time.
debfromphilly More than 1 year ago
My husband loved this series!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series
Drewano More than 1 year ago
Zombies, and Terrorist and Vampires oh my!  The fourth installment in the Joe Ledger series picks up follows the same template as the three before it but with a new twisted set of challenges.  If you’re a fan of intense action, unique characters and a giant smart ass as your main character, then dive right into “Assassins Code” and enjoy the ride.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best Joe Ledger book besides Patient Zero. The story is very exciting and i love how characters from others stories show up expands more on their background. Joe Ledger is an awesome action character kind of like jason bourne, james bond and captain American all rolled into one.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tying up a handful of loose threads, this is the most fantastical -- but still remotely plausible -- Joe Ledger adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Johnathan Maberry made a killer series when he created Joe Ledger and the DMS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has a great story line but some spelling errors the book spells a character's name Circe then it becomes Circle it's in chapter 19
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
adventureag More than 1 year ago
love all Joe Ledger books...except for #3, wasn't my fav. All the rest 5 stars!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You cant get enough of this guy and his team. Add ghost and you have the perfect read. Lots of action to the point where you CANT put it down. Bravo Maberry... want more!
dhirforever More than 1 year ago
awsome read....cant wait for the next Joe Ledger adventure
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He's faced zombies, super-soldiers, plagues, and biological warfare. Whats Vampire assassins, other than just a regular day at the Department of Military Science.