The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger Series #2)

The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger Series #2)

by Jonathan Maberry

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312382490
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/02/2010
Series: Joe Ledger Series , #2
Pages: 486
Sales rank: 108,960
Product dimensions: 8.28(w) x 5.54(h) x 1.31(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Maberry is the New York Times bestselling and multiple Bram Stoker Award--winning author of Fall of Night, Rot & Ruin, the Pine Deep Trilogy, Zombie CSU and The Nightsiders. He writes comics for Marvel (Captain America: Hail Hydra, Black Panther, etc), Dark Horse (Bad Blood) and IDW (V-Wars, Rot & Ruin). His Joe Ledger series is in development for television.

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

(1)

ONE WEEK AGO

Otto Wirths was the second worst mass murderer in the history of the world. Compared to him Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun and even Alexander the Great were amateurs, poseurs who could not hold a candle to Otto and his body count.

Only one person was worse.

Cyrus Jakoby.

That wasn’t his real name, and in a way he had no real name. Like Otto, Cyrus was a freak. Like Otto, Cyrus was a monster.

A week ago I’d never even heard of them. Almost no one had. A week ago they were on no watch lists, they were not sought by any world governments, their names were not muttered in hateful curses or angry prayers by a single person on planet earth.

Yet together they had done more harm than anyone. Together they had very quietly slaughtered tens of millions.

Tens of millions.

At night, when they sat down to their dinner they did not dwell on past accomplishments. A champion athlete doesn’t dwell on the preliminaries. To them it was always what was coming next. What was coming soon.

One week ago, seven days before I even heard of them, Otto Wirths placed a large digital clock on the wall above the elaborate workstation where he and Cyrus spent much of their waking hours. The clock was set to tick off seconds and minutes. Otto adjusted it to read 10,080. Ten thousand and eighty minutes.

One hundred and sixty eight hours.

Seven days.

One week.

After he pressed the start button, Otto and Cyrus clinked glasses of Perrier-Jouet, which—at over six thousand dollars a bottle—was the world's most expensive champagne.

They sipped the bubbles and smiled and watched the first sixty seconds tick away, and then the next sixty.

The Extinction Clock had begun.

(2)

NOW

I crouched in the dark. I was bleeding and something inside was broken. Maybe something inside my head, too.

The door was barred. I had three bullets left. Three bullets and a knife.

The pounding on the door was like thunder. I knew the door wouldn’t hold.

They would get in.

Somewhere the Extinction Clock was ticking down. If I was still in this room when it hit zero more people would die than perished during the Black Death and all of the pandemics put together.

I thought I could stop them.

I had to stop them. It was down to me or no one.

It wasn’t my fault I came into this so late. They chased us and messed with our heads and ran us around and by the time we knew what we were up against the clock had already nearly run its course.

We tried. Over the last week I’d left a trail of bodies behind me from Denver to Costa Rica to the Bahamas. Some of those bodies were human. Some…well, I don’t know what the hell you’d call them.

The pounding was louder. The door was buckling, the crossbar bending. It was only seconds before the lock or the hinges gave out, and then they’d come howling in here. Then it would be them against me.

I was hurt. I was bleeding.

I had three bullets and a knife.

I got to my feet and faced the door, my gun in my left hand, the knife in my right.

I smiled.

Let them come.

PART ONE

HUNTERS

“There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

Ernest Hemingway

"On the Blue Water," Esquire, April 1936

CHAPTER ONE

Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Baltimore, MD

Saturday, August 28; 8:04 am /Time Remaining on the Extinction Clock: 97 hours; 56 minutes

“Detective Ledger?” he said and held out an ID case. “NSA.”

“How do you spell that?”

Not a flicker of a smile touched the concrete slab of his face. He was as big as me and the three goons with him were even bigger. All of them in sunglasses with American flags pinned on their chests. Why does this stuff always seem to happen to me?

“We’d like you to come with us,” said the guy with the flat face.

“Why?” We were in the parking lot of Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Baltimore. I had a mixed bunch of bright yellow daffodils in one hand and a bottle of spring water in the other. I had a pistol tucked into the back of my jeans under an Orioles away-game shirt. I never used to bring a piece to Helen’s grave, but over the last few months things have changed. Life’s become more complicated, and the gun was a habit 24/7. Even here.

The Goon Squad was definitely packing. Three right-handers and one lefty. I could see the faint bulges even under the tailored suits. The lefty was the biggest of the bunch, a moose with steroid shoulders and a nose that looked like it had been punched at least once from every possible angle. If things got weird he’d be the grabby type. The guys on either side of him were pretty-boys; they’d keep their distance and draw on me. Right now they were about fourteen feet out and their sports coats were unbuttoned. Smooth.

“We’d like you to come with us,” Slab-face said again.

“I heard you. I asked ‘why?’”

“Please, Detective—.”

“It’s Captain Ledger, actually.” I put a bit of frost in it even though I kept a smile on my face.

He said nothing.

“Have a nice day,” I said and started to turn. The guy next to Slab-face—the one with the crooked nose—put his hand on my shoulder.

I stopped and looked down at his big hand and then up at his face. I didn’t say a word and he didn’t move his hand. There were four of them and one of me. The Nose probably thought that gave them a clean edge, and since NSA guys are pretty tough he was probably right. On the other hand these guys tend to believe their own hype, and that can come back to bite you. I don’t know how much they knew about me, but if this clown had his hand on me then they didn’t know enough.

I tapped his wrist with the bunch of daffodils. “You mind?”

He removed his hand, but he stepped closer. “Don’t make this complicated.”

’Why’,’” I said, “is not a complicated question.”

He gave me a millimeter of a smile. “National security.”

“Bullshit. I’m in national security. Go through channels.”

Slab-face touched the Nose’s shoulder and moved him aside so he could look me in the eyes. “We were told to bring you in.”

“Who signed the order?”

“Detective…”

“There you go again,”

Slab-face took a breath through his nose. “Captain Ledger.” He poured enough acid in it to melt through battleship armor.

“What’s your name?” I asked. He hadn’t held the ID up long enough for me to read it.

He paused. “Special Agent John Andrews.”

“Tell you what, Andrews, this is how we’re going to play it. I’m going to go over there and put flowers on the grave of my oldest and dearest friend–a woman who suffered horribly and died badly. I plan to sit with her for a while and I hope you have enough class and manners to allow me my privacy. Watch if you want to, but don’t get in my face. If you’re still here when I’m done then we can take another swing at the ‘why’ question and I’ll decide whether I go with you.”

“What’s this bullshit,” snapped the Nose.

Andrews just looked at me.

“That’s the agenda, Andrews,” I said. “Take it or leave it.”

Despite his orders and his professional cool he was a little off-balance. The very fact that he was hesitating meant that there was something hinky about thism, and my guess was that he didn’t know what it was—so he wasn’t ready to try and strongarm me. I was a federal agent tied to Homeland–or close enough for his purposes—and I held military rank on top of it. He couldn’t be sure that a misstep here wouldn’t do him some career harm. I watched his eyes as he sorted through his playbook.

“Ten minutes,” he said.

I should have just nodded and went to visit Helen’s grave, but the fact that they were accosting me here of all places really pissed me off. “Tell you what,” I said, stepping back but still smiling, “when it gets to ten minutes start holding your breath.”

I gave him a cheery wink and used the index finger of the hand holding the bottle to point at the Nose. Then I turned and headed through the tombstones, feeling the heat of their stares on my back like laser sites.

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The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger Series #2) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 120 reviews.
redroush99 More than 1 year ago
The dragon factory being the second joe ledgar book is just as unique and maybe even better than the first. At first, when i found out there was going to be another joe ledgar story, i thought it would have to include zombies just like the first, but man did maberry throw me for a loop. The series has the whole X-files thing and maberry makes sci-fi seem so realistic. I just can't believe how much action and character development is crammed into these books, there is never a boring page. I admit, at first i only picked up patient zero for its zombie storyline, but now, i want to read every tale of joe ledgar. I also read that this series is supposed to be optioned for a tv series. If anybody wants a thriller and action packed story, this is the one! Also if anybody is a resident evil fan, read Patient Zero, it seems just like a plot of resident evil and i don't know who is more like joe ledgar; Chris Redfield or Leon Kennedy? Other recommendations; The whole Vampire Academy Series, Any Scott Sigler book or podcast, One Second After, The Ruins, Fragment, World War Z, Monster Nation series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Rot and Ruin, I couldn't stop reading your books. The Rot and Ruin series was a blast and I am excited for Flesh and Bones. Anyways, this series was a hell of a ride so far but has a sad and unexpected ending in this book. But it wont stop me from reading the rest of the series! Keep up the good work!
josh main More than 1 year ago
The action parts are awesome and will keep you wanting more and even the slow parts are well written and interesting. defiantly worth the read
Hannah Frederick More than 1 year ago
This book will have you on the edge of your seat or wherever your sitting and will have you guessing until the very end.
madnessabides on LibraryThing 3 months ago
An enjoyable follow up to Jonathan Maberry¿s Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory is what you would expect from a very capable author. It brings back Joe Ledger, a strong modern character, who you can cheer for. A suspense filled fast read, I¿d recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Patient Zero. To those who have not read Patient Zero, I suggest starting there as it is a fun book as well.
Penforhire on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The Dragon Factory is a fun second book to Patient Zero. The same protagonists are continued and explored. New villains threaten the world. Most excellent!Now it seems almost formulaic, the way the villains move against each other, as it was also seen in Patient Zero. But it is forgivable even if the reasons were better-yet-echoed from the first book (money versus fundamentalism, Islamic extremmists in the first and white supremists in the second). I'm not certain it moves the plot along (imagine the twins were always loyal to dad, all it changes are, effectively, the hired Russian goons) but it added narrative and perhaps gave Maberry more opportunity to spend time with the villains.Joe went a little too superhuman for me in the late encounters with the hallway full of berserkers. Fine, small roll-eyes-moment in an otherwise thrilling novel. I'd rather see that he spent that much effort to get past, say, two of them.Know what bothers me more? How Joe got the abort code at the end. WTF?! The interrogation is freakin' 'off screen'?! Not to mention how Cyrus is built up to be so seriously insane it is not obvious to the reader that he would break under physical threats or torment. Maberry would have done better to at least insert some earlier hint of a phobia or weakness in Cyrus. Or have the DMS geeks break the abort code. Or... well, you get what I mean.Okay, relax, deep breath. In the end analysis I still enjoyed the ride and I want to read more adventures with Joe Ledger and the DMS!
bjbookman on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I was expecting a exciting horror novel, than Jonathan Maberry is so capable of writing. It wasn't. Instead it was a top-notched thriller novel with plenty of action, villians, thrills, and suspense. Maberry knows how to write. He knows how to appeal to his readers. He has proved that he can handle different plots and effortless tie them together seamlessly. Trying to figure out which direction Maberry was taken Joe was an experience that kept me guessing.His first novel of the Joe Ledger series, Patient Zero, has been nominated for a Stoker and I'll bet MY collection of Muddy Waters on vinyl he will win.
cmwilson101 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Joe Ledger is back, a few months after Patient Zero, to stop a diabolical plot to exterminate millions of people via genetic engineering. Lots of fast-paced action, evil characters, genetically engineered creatures & diseases, and a little bit of love thrown into the mix. Enjoyable, but predictable. A good bit of bubble-gum, but disappointing after the brilliance of Patient Zero.
ShanLizLuv on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Okay, I'll admit it...I was wrong. When Dragon Factory came in the mail (and I realized it was the second in a series) I thought, "Gads. Another non-vampire vamire book." I'm so sick of all the new vampire stuff. Most is just poorly plotted crap or rehashes of what someone else did(and did better). So, I took a deep breath, told myself to just suck it up (no pun intended) and order Patient Zero.Like I said, totally wrong. This series is fast paced, original and well written. (I absolutely suck at writing pithy synopses...read the dust jacket.) Dragon Factory adds a couple of new twists to the genre (Mengele, among them). If you love vampire-ish stuff (they aren't quite vampires...just genetically engineered) pick up this series. Its a breath of fresh air for a genre that seems to have been overtaxed of late.
jrr731 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Non-Stop action. The use of cutting edge science was done well. I never got a real feel fo the heros of the story, they didn't feel "complete" to me. It seemed like they needed some more personality. Overall, this was a good read,anybody who likes action and science should enjoy this book.
kayceel on LibraryThing 3 months ago
While I did end up enjoying this book, it really didn't pick up until the end. What I loved about the first in this series, Patient Zero - zombies and fantastic action - was barely present here (zero zombies, and not enough action for me).What I didn't like - too much emphasis on evil geniuses and their crazy, wacked out ideals - is again too prevalent. Fewer crazies and more action, and i'd have liked this much more.That said, I do quite like Joe Ledger and the other members of DMS, a top secret agency tasked with, well, fighting evil geniuses, I guess. He's tough and tortured and a total badass, as is Grace Courtland, one of his fellow soldiers.Recommended to those who like science mixed into their military thrillers.
TadAD on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The Dragon Factory is yet another rollercoaster of a techno-thriller from Maberry. Like last year's Patient Zero, he skirts the boundaries of another genre without quite stepping over the line. Where Patient Zero was horror done via prion infections, The Dragon Factory shows us a bit of supernatural done by gene splicing. Let me give you fair warning: you'll have to suspend disbelief on the science a bit but, if you just relax and go with the flow, it's a wild ride. These novels have some of the feel of Dent's Doc Savage or Rohmer's Dr. Fu Manchu stories from the 1930s and 1940s. The action is non-stop; the plots are world-shaking; the characters are flamboyantly drawn.If I have one quibble, it's that there's very little surprise at the end of this book. The real identities of the bad guys, the final outcome of the battle, which characters will live and which will die¿all these are pretty easily guessed by the reader long before the book ends. In fact, the only real surprise was the identity of a fairly minor assassin in the book¿and that one didn't make too much sense. But, these are minor complaints.When I finished Patient Zero, I questioned whether he'd be able to sustain it for a second book. He did. The only question now is, what can he do for a third?Recommended as a fun summer read if you like the genre and aren't put off by a high body count.
drneutron on LibraryThing 3 months ago
You want pulse-pounding action? The Dragon Factory's got it. You want really evil villains and conspiracies to destroy the world? It's got it. You want a hero who saves the day at great personal cost. Yep, it's in there too. There's a long line of books behind this one stretching back at least to the pulps of the early twentieth century through James Bond and techno thrillers of the last couple of decades. The Dragon factory is right up there with the best of 'em. Fair warning - it's violent. There's an enormous body count, even without including the villain's history. The technology is stretched pretty far and in a couple of places the plot relies on a bit of a technological miracle. But that's ok, you'll never notice. The action and the characters will make you blow right past that. My guess is that we'll be seeing lots more of Joe Ledger and his compatriots at the DMS - and I'm looking forward to that!
kmaziarz on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Joe Ledger and his team from the Department of Military Science, first seen in Maberry¿s ¿Patient Zero,¿ are back to save the world again. This time the villains are two teams of geneticists who are straight out of the over-the-top world of a James Bond flick. The albino Jakoby Twins, a glamorous brother-and-sister team, seem to be little more than paparazzi fodder and rich lay-abouts, but are in reality evil murderous geniuses who manufacture genetic monsters plucked from humanity¿s mythologies¿dragons, unicorns, and the like¿and have also created a race of super-soldiers known as Berserkers. The Twins¿ wildly unstable father Cyrus Jakoby, meanwhile, is using his brilliant mind to continue the eugenics work of the Nazis, seeking to create a series of deadly viruses that will target members of specific heritages and backgrounds, effectively wiping out what he calls ¿the mud people.¿ The countdown to his ¿Extinction Wave¿ has already started, and no one even knows that they have to stop it until Joe Ledger¿s team stumbles across the disparate threads of the case while investigating something else altogether. But once they begin to put the pieces together, the race to stop the Extinction Clock begins!Violent, fast-paced, and pleasantly larger-than-life¿indeed, almost campy at times, especially in descriptions of the lairs and activities of the Twins and their father¿genre-bending ¿The Dragon Factory¿ ought to please fans of espionage, military, and science fiction thrillers alike. The graphic violence makes it not for the weak of stomach, though the developing romance between Ledger and a colleague, as well as the joking camaraderie of Ledger and his team help to temper this. An enjoyable romp, over all.
ocgreg34 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
In an undisclosed laboratory, a man adjusts digital clock -- the Extinction Clock -- and starts the timer. Within one week -- the amount of time displayed on the clock -- the world could change forever. Unless Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences can get to them first, that is. But Joe and the DMS have quite a task ahead of them, and their foes -- two teams of genetic researchers, one bent on creating genetically enhanced armies for the highest bidder, and the other resurrecting Josef Mengele's Nazi Master Race program -- will do whatever it takes to stop them.As with his prior Joe Ledger novel, "Patient Zero", the chapters are short and begin with a time signature or the countdown on the Extinction Clock. The short length provides enough to whet the appetite, but the countdown and time signatures add to the anticipation. When the story jumped back in time to show the progress of the genetics teams, I never felt lost or jolted from the continuity of the main action.As a reader, I wanted to know what was going to happen, but the time spurred me on, tossing me into the frenetic frame of mind of Joe and the DMS trying to stop something before the deadline hits and all Hell breaks loose.The story itself is quite fantastic, filled with a great mixture of adventure and science fiction that takes the end-of-the world scenario to another level: clones, gene manipulation to create targeted diseases, Joe and the DMS battling half-dog/half-scorpion creations know as "Stingers" and Berzerkers (genetically engineered warriors that put the Hulk to shame). Plus, the characters themselves are terrific creations: Joe Ledger, a hard-edged former police officer who questions himself and the ways of the world, even when he falls into an ill-advised romance; the mysterious Mr. Church who runs the DMS and seems unflappable, but still shows a human side -- albeit very brief; Cyrus Jakoby and Otto Wirths, villains through and through, who can see nothing beyond their vision of a perfect world, even when it pertains to Jakoby's offspring; Paris and Hecate Jakoby, or the "Young Gods" as Cyrus refers to them, genetically perfect, almost pure evil and full of schemes at odds with their father."The Dragon Factory" offers a fast-paced story that won't allow you to put it down once you begin. Great stuff here!
aztwinmom on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The characters in this adventure are well-developed. The evil villains are chilling and the heroes are sympathetic. The story did bog down at times in the philosophical viewpoints, but overall it was a suspenseful, exciting book that kept me reading to see what would happen next. As with good science fiction, it took the reality of gene therapy and cloning and took it to the furthest, frightening level. I would definitely read the next Joe Ledger novel.
Alera on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The Dragon Factory is a sequel to Patient Zero, and what looks to be the continuation of a series featuring Joe Ledger, a cop turned secret agent of sorts. This second novel in the series actually vastly improves on the first. The twists are less obvious. The villains are more engaging. And while it lacks a bit of the characterization of the first, the constant action and ticking clock allow for a very gripping and active read. It was remarkably easy to slip into the narrative. The novel has great pacing, there is very little downtime. The science, while incredibly far-fetched, is definitely intriguing and a bit terrifying to think about. If you're wanting an action/thriller, I honestly don't think it gets much better than this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Masterpiece. LOVE JOE LEDGER THANK YOU MR MABERRY
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full of Action and suspense.
debfromphilly More than 1 year ago
My husband loved this series!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On to #3...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jlgc More than 1 year ago
The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry is a science fiction action thriller. This is book 2 (of 6) in the Joe Ledger Series featuring the Department of Military Sciences (DMS). The book is about some left over Nazis trying to fulfill the Nazi agenda of killing off all human races they believe to be inferior. The way they are orchestrating this is to develop a way for genetic diseases to be changed so that they are more of a virus or bacterial infection. These Nazis have been experimenting with gene therapy, transgenics, and cloning. Our hero Joe Ledger, and his team, is tasked with tracking down the source of a video showing a hunt of a unicorn. This includes sneaking into a large storage facility deep in the mountains of Denver, finding and rescuing the boy who sent the video, and bringing down the bad guys.  The DMS’s work is made harder at the beginning of the story due to forces within our own government trying to shut them down. Additionally, Joe and Grace’s relationship continues to grow, putting them in the difficult position of an attachment that makes things harder for a warrior. More of Joe’s personality comes through here. He exhibits all three aspects of his personality, but he is mostly in warrior mode throughout this book. Church continues to be a strong leader through the difficulties he faces in saving the DMS. The enemies include 2 Nazi scientists, a couple of twins that are considered the children of one of the scientists, and an assassin. The team also runs up against Russians, genetically altered soldiers, and genetically altered animals. The story is told from the point of view of many of the different characters. All are in the third person except for Joe Ledger’s, which is in the first person. I found this very interesting and was able to follow the story very well through the different viewpoints. It’s a longer story, but all parts are needed to tell it completely. The structure of the story makes sense and works very well. It’s obvious that Maberry spent a lot of time researching the subject matter and he provides a lot of information relating to the research the Nazis are doing.  The characters are very credible both the evil Nazis and the bigger than life heroes. The heroes are the kind we like to see. My favorite character is Joe Ledger. This may be because he takes up so much of the story and because he is a bigger than life personality with many likeable qualities. My second favorite in the series is most probably Rudy, Joe’s best friend. Although Rudy played a small role in this story, it was significant and admirable.  I was very willing to read another Joe Ledger book after reading the first one, Patient Zero. And even though I have a pile of other books to read I will be making it a priority to read the rest of the Joe Ledger series. This is a book (and series) that I highly recommend to those who like science fiction, action, thrillers, and military engagements. I believe that it is appropriate for teens as well as adults. 
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