I love weird science. I love weird action. I love weird characters. And I like smartass humor. Those things all conspired within me to make me create Joe Ledger, the hero of my ongoing series of action thrillers. The series launched with Patient Zero, in which Joe, a former Baltimore cop is recruited by a secret government agency to fight terrorists who have a weaponize prion disease that turns people into zombies. The latest in the series, Predator One, deals with terrorists who hack civilian, commercial and military drones and turn them into weapons of mass destruction.
Like most writers I read deeply into the genre in which I write. I’m also fortunate enough to be friends with most of the guys who write these kinds of books. What makes me even happier is that my crew of road dogs are turning out some of the finest, most well-crafted, inventive, and riveting adventure fiction currently being published. Stuff you have to buckle up and take motion sickness pills before reading, and you need CPR when you’re done. Here are some of my favorites.
Jack Sigler/Chess Team by Jeremy Robinson
Short pitch: Jack Sigler leads a team of former Delta Force shooters into one wild adventure after another. Weird science, twisted politics, and raw action.
Bottom Line: Jack Sigler and my character, Joe Ledger, would probably hang together. They both have peculiar worldviews and they’re both smart-asses. They also both kick ass and take names. But they’re also very different. Jeremy has crafted a unique hero in Jack Sigler, one with dimension and nuance. He has a heart and he has brains, and the Chess Team novels showcase the triumph and tragedy when a good man goes to war.
SEAL Team 666 by Weston Ochse
Short pitch: Accurately described as ‘Tom Clancy meets the X-Files’, Ochse combines weird set-ups (demons, monsters, and badies with high-tech weapons) with tough-as-nails authentic action.
Bottom Line: Seal Team cadet Jack Walker is a badass. He’s also a badass with heart. Ochse deflty manages that delicate balancing act of dynamic action, high-concept plots, and engagement human characters. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is slated to play Walker in a film adaptation. Can’t wait.
Alex Hunter by Greig Beck
Short pitch: Alex Hunter and his team of combat specialists square off against horrors of all kinds. Greig takes the readers all over the world and plunges is characters into the most disturbing and occasionally disgusting situations. These books are not for the faint of heart.
Bottom Line: Alex Hunter is a very complex character. He has a lot of heart and in another life you could almost imagine him being an academic, perhaps of art or literature. But his calling is war and so he brings a kind of Indiana Jones scholar-cum-adventurer vibe to the game. And Greig is not afraid of littering the ground with the corpses of Alex’s enemies. Plus, he throws some truly creepy story elements at us that I won’t spoil. Read this stuff with the lights on.
Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia
Short pitch: A group of badass shooters go gunning for supernatural monsters, mostly on behalf of the U.S. government. They’ll go up against anything from vampires to werewolves to zombies.
Bottom Line: MHI is pure adrenaline. You read these books and you expect to step on shell casings. Larry knows his military tech and he clearly loves everything that goes bump in the night. Even though these are long books, the tendency is to rip right through them and ache for the next one. MHI and Joe Ledger will be teaming up for a couple of short stories, which should be a sick amount of fun.
SIGMA Force by James Rollins
Short Pitch: When I first encountered the Sigma Force novels –long before I became friends with Jim Rollins—a bookseller told me that these stories were about ‘geeks with guns’. While not entirely accurate, that’s pretty close to the mark, and that really speaks to me. The SIGMA Force is a (sadly) fictional division of the Department of Defense’s DARPA program and the stories deal with all sorts of weird science-based threats and the field operatives who go head to head with very bad people trying to do very bad things with very bad weapons.
Bottom Line: Jim Rollins is the king of the weird science action genre. His million-copy bestsellers are a blend of reliable science, complex characters, delightful weirdness, and high-concept threats that make each of these books the literary equivalent of crack. I jumped on board with the third in the series, Black Order, which is still on my list as one of the greatest thrillers ever written.
Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, four-time Bram Stoker Award winner, and comic book writer. He writes horror, thrillers, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and suspense for adults and teens.