Review: 'Kill Switch' by Jonathan Maberry

Kill Switch-2Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Griffin (April 26 2016)
544 pages; $9.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Is it to early to add this to the list of my ten favorite reads of 2016? Kill Switch, by Jonathan Maberry, is that good. It’s hard to imagine many books to be published the rest of this year being better than this new adventure in the Joe Ledger series.

If you’ve never read a Joe Ledger novel, it’s not too late. Kill Switch is as good a place to start as any. You don’t need to read the other books unless you really want to. Maberry covers all of the bases to bring the reader up to speed on Echo Team and the Department of Military Science. The DMS deals with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle—and these are big problems: terrorist zombies, weaponized plagues, and so much more.

This book starts with Captain Ledger leading a team investigating the reasons behind the sudden silence from a research facility in the Antarctic. (As an aside, my current bedtime read is H.P. Lovecraft’s The Mountain’s of Madness from The Complete Fiction and Poetry of H.P. Lovecraft and I saw the connection right away.) Thus begins a wild mash-up of Lovecraft and Ledger.

One of a number of well-crafted subplots involves the childhood of the most intelligent person on the planet who also believes Lovecraft, Derleth, Howard, and other authors were writing much more than stupid horror stories.

Prospero was convinced he was not human. Not entirely. And he was equally convinced that he was not from this world.

Prospero wants to build what he calls the “God Machine” to open a door to the world he came from so he can go home. His attempts over the years have led to a number of side effects, projects co-opted by his demanding father. Projects with names like “Dreamwalking,” “Dreamshield,” “Freefall,” “Unlearnable Truths,” and “Kill Switch,” which when activated creates a localized, temporary EMP. The technologies fall into the hands of a terrorist group and events escalate to a level of unthinkable proportions.

Things that make a Joe Ledger novel so much fun to read include his sparkly dialogue:

Hell, Farm Boy, don’t go thinking you hold the patent on being sphincter-clenching scared. I would give your left nut to be ten thousand miles away from here.

Maberry is also the king of the simile:

I rolled on my side as far as tubes and wires would allow. There was no muscle tone left as far as I could tell and even that simple action was like bench-pressing a Volvo.

There is a great deal of ground covered in this 544 page volume, but Maberry keeps it interesting with a number of brilliant twists. Just when you think you know where he’s going, there’s another twist and it all makes as much sense as it did before or at least until the next twist.

Once you get to the last hundred pages, I dare you to put this book down. It’s just loaded with non-stop action. When I was done, I was ready for the Joe Ledger Special from Jake Witkowski’s food truck:

A homemade bacon cheddar brat, sliced open and topped with a steak patty with grilled pepper and onions, piled high with homemade cheese sauce, homemade whiskey BBQ sauce, and crushed Fritos.

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, Kill Switch is available in paperback, e-book, and popular audio formats.

This one gets my highest recommendation.

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