cover image The King of Plagues

The King of Plagues

Jonathan Maberry, read by Ray Porter. Blackstone Audio, unabridged, 13 CDs, 16 hrs., $39.95 ISBN 978-1-4417-9557-1

In Maberry's third novel about rugged, wisecracking Joe Ledger, an on-again, off-again agent for the U.S. Department of Military Science, seven loathsome "kings" and one possibly supernatural "goddess" decide to rule the world through the use of plague viruses. The only thing they fear is a super-secret society within Yale University's Skull and Bones club. Much to the benefit of this adventure thriller%E2%80%94a book that begins with a sinister maniac threatening to cut off his captive's eyelids%E2%80%94Ray Porter immediately creates a sense of dramatic intensity, which he maintains throughout the book. And while this vigorous narration is appropriate for powerful events such as the burning of the Royal London Hospital or the deaths of thousands of innocent people, it proves a bit excessive when coupled with the author's somewhat purple prose%E2%80%94particularly so in the seduction scenes. And for all his good work in producing an assortment of British accents, Porter's ultra-evil, whispery villains do nothing to mitigate the book's quickly numbing and over-the-top melodrama. A St. Martin's Griffin paperback. (Mar.)