Brad Meltzer's greatest trick yet
You know those authors you can't wait to read, waiting with bated breath until their next title comes out? Brad Meltzer is that author for me. I have read nearly all of his books and each time I finish one, I say a silent prayer that his typing fingers and storytelling brain conspire to churn out the next book quickly. Selfish? Maybe. But I can't help it. His books are that good.
His latest book, THE ESCAPE ARTIST is no exception. Before I get into this any further, there are a few things you should know about me: Specifically, a few things that I absolutely love:
Magic and magicians, history, Abraham Lincoln, a great mystery novel, and Bob Ross (yes, the "happy little trees guy" -- I mean really, does ANYONE have a more relaxing voice?) Never did I ever imagine that all of these things would ever combine in one place, specifically, THE ESCAPE ARTIST. Yep, all of these things are a part of this novel.
Here's the setup:
A plane goes down in Alaska after departing a secret military base. Among the dead on board is Nola Brown, but when her body shows up at Dover Air Force Base, mortician "Zig," who has known Nola since she was a childhood friend of his daughter, discovers that the body they have identified as Nola is actually someone else. Who is this woman, and where is the real Nola Brown? Determined to find the real story, Zig digs into Nola's past -- and he finds out far more than he bargained for.
Nola is artist-in residence for the U.S. Army, and it appears that on her last mission she saw something she wasn't supposed to see. That observation earned her a very determined enemy, one who wants more than anything to keep Nola quiet. What kind of sleight of hand will Nola and Zig uncover, and what does it have to do with the greatest escape artist in history, Harry Houdini?
Quite simply put, THE ESCAPE ARTIST delivers. Taking us deep inside walls of places that are off-limits to most of us, it is full of government conspiracies, top-secret missions, and a host of other secrets. It has a thrilling plot with impeccable pacing, enough twists and turns to keep you turning page over page well into the night (thank goodness for coffee!) and a very satisfying ending that will accost you like a mugger in a dark alley.
Offering depth and texture to the plot is Meltzer's signature inexhaustible research. He is somehow able to teach us something without us even realizing it, seamlessly weaving historical fact and detail about things most of us probably don't know into the plot, the kind of stuff that makes you nudge your sleeping partner awake just so you can ask, "Hey, did you know...?"
Meltzer's books all contain those elements, which is what makes them enormously compelling reads, each and every one. But this book also has something just a little extra: Nola Brown. She is the type of character that you feel like you already know, so fully formed is she on the page as we follow her from one chapter to the next. She's the type of bad-ass chick you hope to have on your six in a bad situation -- and the kind of girl on whose bad side you hope you never find yourself. Life circumstance has made her tough, yet under it all she's really just a lost little girl who wants to find a place to belong. Will she be able to outrun her past?
If you've never read a Brad Meltzer book, this is a great place to start. But don't miss his other books, either. Order them all now and thank me later. Find Brad Meltzer on Instagram and Twitter: @bradmeltzer.
(Brad, if you're reading this, thanks for writing another enormously satisfying read. You have a fan for life. Soon, my 10-year-old will be borriwng my copies of your books. They are right up her alley, too :)