Top positive review
Fast-moving thriller with depth and complexity
Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2021
Predator One is the second Ledger book I've read, so I can pass along that the novels are good even if you're parachuting in at some point in the main story. Captain Ledger and his team open with a mission that's a national disaster because they arrive five minutes too late, and things get a lot worse from there. The world's most brilliant programmer is missing and presumed dead, but he's been drawn into a web that includes a female assassin who knows how to torture with both pain and pleasure, a mastermind who was also presumed deceased (Ledger needs to check these things more carefully). and a "priest" who is not quite a human being. The first terrorist attack is a rousing scene, and a chilling one because if you assume some reasonable improvements in drones and computing (Maberry researches this stuff very well) it's more than possible. The group and one-on-one fights are all mesmerizing, and the pieces of the plot come together very nicely as the world circles the abyss and we move toward a last-second bit of suspense: Can Joe get information from someone who has no reason to give it, even under torture? (There's a LOT of torture in here, and the eye-slicing details won't be for everyone.)
What distinguishes this thriller series is the depth and complexity of the characters and their worlds. Ledger, physically and psychologically, has been beat to hell. The people he loves are all in danger, of course. They are all well-drawn, and the interactions between them in life-and-death moments and the rare interludes of quiet are to be savored. Other reliable features with Ledger novels are the very latest in military hardware (I know just enough to know the envelope Maberry is pushing is within plausible reality) and complex adversaries who are masters of misdirection.
Even great authors have tiny slips - an A-10 pilot fires his "last bullet" when it should be "last shell," and I can't figure out how they camouflage a dog's infrared signature at one point. Maberry, though, makes you WORK for those moments. This is a book with depth, characterization, and suspense: you know some people you like are going to die, but who remains uncertain until the last act. Hop aboard the Ledger train.