Every once in a while a book comes along that I am hesitant to start because I know once I do start it I'm not going to be able to put it down.
Brad Meltzer's new book The Escape Artist is just such a book.
And it's no big surprise that it debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
The best thrillers are those where it's hard to separate what's fact from what's fiction. Meltzer intersperses his books with details that only come from meticulous research. For example, one of the main characters, Jim "Zig" Zigarowski is a mortician at Dover Air Force Base which is home to the government's mortuary. Any soldier killed in action is brought to Dover. So are CIA undercover agents that have died in the line of duty. And many others. Meltzer's description of the mortuary is so detailed you feel like you are right there. And I came away with a much greater appreciation of the work that is completed there by our unsung heroes who go to tremendous lengths to make sure that their fallen sons and daughters are properly prepared to be given a decent burial.
When a small plane crashes in Alaska with the Librarian of Congress and several others aboard it is up to Zig to deal with the bodies as they are brought to Dover. He is shocked to discover one of the victims is Nola Brown, a young woman who many years earlier had saved his own daughter's life. But as he completes his examination he realizes that the woman is not Nola Brown at all. Nola is alive and on the run. Why did she go to such lengths to fake her death? Who is she running from? And why? Zig is determined to get to the truth. But at what cost?
I would share more but that would be telling. Suffice it to say that because Meltzer does such a great job of grounding his stories in what is true that it makes the plot much more realistic and as a result the novel much more fascinating to read. Also he's a master at the unexpected plot twist - just when you think you know where the story is headed he brings an unexpected twist (or two or three).
Meltzer has made a career of constructing page-turning thrillers and The Escape Artist is no exception. Pick up a copy and then block out time to read it. Once you start it you won't be able to put it down.
My rating: 4 1/2 stars.
Note: this book contains adult language.