The Escape Artist|Brad Meltzer


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"Meltzer is a master and this is his best. Not since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have you seen a character like this. Get ready to meet Nola. If you've never tried Meltzer, this is the one."--- Harlan Coben

Who is Nola Brown? Nola is a mystery Nola is trouble. And Nola is supposed to be dead.
Her body was found on a plane that mysteriously fell from the sky as it left a secret military base in the Alaskan wilderness. Her commanding officer verifies she's dead. The US government confirms it. But Jim "Zig" Zigarowski has just found out the truth: Nola is still alive. And on the run.
Zig works at Dover Air Force Base, helping put to rest the bodies of those who die on top-secret missions. Nola was a childhood friend of Zig's daughter and someone who once saved his daughter's life. So when Zig realizes Nola is still alive, he's determined to find her. Yet as Zig digs into Nola's past, he learns that trouble follows Nola everywhere she goes.
Nola is the US Army's artist-in-residence-a painter and trained soldier who rushes into battle, making art from war's aftermath and sharing observations about today's wars that would otherwise go overlooked. On her last mission, Nola saw something nobody was supposed to see, earning her an enemy unlike any other, one who will do whatever it takes to keep Nola quiet.
Together, Nola and Zig will either reveal a sleight of hand being played at the highest levels of power or die trying to uncover the US Army's most mysterious secret-a centuries-old conspiracy that traces back through history to the greatest escape artist of all: Harry Houdini.


  • ISBN-13: 9781455559527
  • ISBN-10: 1455559520
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publish Date: March 2018
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Page Count: 434

Whodunit: Take a dive into a classically styled noir

At one time or another, all of us have considered the appeal of walking out of our current life, leaving everything and everyone behind, and starting afresh somewhere new. Few people have stronger reasons to do this than Polly Costello—female lead in Laura Lippman’s new James M. Cain-inspired thriller, Sunburn—who has fallen into a series of abusive relationships. Her latest lover, whom she encountered while on the run, is Adam Bosk. Unbeknownst to Polly, Adam is a private investigator who’s been hired to get close to her in order to look into Polly’s dubious dealings regarding a large insurance settlement. Despite initial misgivings on both sides, the two develop genuine feelings for one another. But Polly is no stranger to the casual, spur-of-the-moment lie, and pretty much everything about Adam Bosk is based on a lie as well (actually, nearly everyone in this book plays fast and loose with the truth), so it is quite difficult for the reader to determine just who is playing whom, and it remains that way until about three pages from the twist ending. Don’t peek.

Army sergeant Nola Brown has been given a new lease on life—sort of. She was mistakenly counted among the dead in a military airplane bombing in which there were no survivors until the mortician, Jim “Zig” Zigarowski, who knows Nola, realized that the remains in his care were of some other person entirely. Brad Meltzer’s latest thriller, The Escape Artist, traces the troubling arc of the very much alive Nola’s existence, flashing back to her traumatic childhood and adolescent years, and then forward once again to present day, when she is running for her life from a band of deadly conspirators operating under the moniker of Operation Bluebook. Without a doubt, her childhood prepared her in large measure for the harrowing challenges being thrown at her now (think Lisbeth Salander, minus the dragon tattoo); she will have to call on every last resource at her disposal in hopes of neutralizing Operation Bluebook before it neutralizes her. The Escape Artist has the pacing of a Japanese bullet train, a clever and original plot, and the requisite twists to keep the reader off balance.

It could be problematic for an author to revisit a novel after nearly a decade in order to tell the rest of the story, but John Hart plows right through those concerns with The Hush, a gripping sequel to his Edgar Award-winning novel The Last Child. Ten years have passed since the double homicide chronicled in that first book, and the now 23-year-old protagonist, Johnny Merrimon, faces the loss of the Hush, the 6,000-acre parcel of North Carolina property he inherited from his family. Part swamp, part woodland, the Hush is said to be the home of unseen things, perhaps supernatural. As rival forces begin to compete for Johnny’s land, strange events begin occurring, culminating in a crucifixion. Hart deals with the supernatural in much the same way as James Lee Burke or T. Jefferson Parker—he puts it out there on display but lets the reader decide how much is real. Nonetheless, he will manage to elicit goose bumps from even the most skeptical reader.

If we translated our day-to-day experiences into fiction, the many converging plotlines would rarely fit into a coherent A-to-B narrative. Very few authors, especially suspense novelists, follow this natural model. One who does, and does so brilliantly, is Kent Anderson, whose Green Sun follows the erratic career of Hanson, a Vietnam vet turned cop, then professor, and about to turn cop again, this time on the mean streets of east Oakland, California. Hanson engages with an interesting and motley group of nominal heroes and villains with whom he shares the daily stage: 11-year-old Weegee, who has the street smarts of someone twice his age; drug lord Felix Maxwell, the sort of folk hero about which narcocorridos are written; and a plethora of fellow cops who take umbrage at Hanson’s refusal to comply with police norms. Conciliation and peacekeeping are his primary goals in community policing; arrests and incident reports are to be avoided whenever possible. With Green Sun, Anderson writes effectively—not with bombastic special effects, high tension or even a lot of suspense, but instead with realism—and he imbues his protagonist with a solid dose of humanity. If I were a cop, Hanson would be on my short list for role models.


This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.