An Army mortician teams up, sort of, with a military artist who just won't die to thwart an obscenely shape-shifting conspiracy.Everybody has some God-given talent. Jim Zigarowski's is to make the dead look presentable for the families who come to view their remains at the Dover Air Force Base. When the bombing of a military plane from Alaska kills all seven aboard, Zig's attention is drawn not to the headline victim—Librarian of Congress Nelson Rookstool, an old friend of President Orson Wallace—but to Sgt. Nola Brown, an Army artist-in-residence who years ago saved the life of 12-year-old Maggie Zigarowski, though she couldn't prevent Zig's daughter from dying scarcely a year later. Illegally grabbing the job of preparing Nola's remains from the mortician assigned to the case, Zig quickly discovers that the remains aren't Nola's after all. His joy that Nola is still alive is tempered by the sobering realization that an awful lot of people have conspired to cover up this happy news by signing off on her death. Inevitably, the living Nola returns, determined to get to the bottom of the bombing. By that time, veteran suspenser Meltzer (co-author: The House of Secrets, 2016, etc.) has begun a series of harrowing flashbacks to Nola's childhood and adolescence that firmly establish her as the most damaged heroine in the genre since Lisbeth Salander. Uncovering traces of a sinister scheme called Operation Bluebook, Zig and Nola work—often at cross-purposes, though not when they need to save each other's lives—through a web of corrupt procurers, creatively armed killers, and board-certified magicians to trace and neutralize Bluebook before its resourceful conspirators can kill Zig and finish the job they bungled on Nola.The same mixture as before: a sweeping, overplotted, overscaled account of high crimes, misdemeanors, and violent coverups and reprisals. But those flashbacks into the heroine's traumatic early years, although they seriously disrupt the momentum of the blood-and-thunder present-day plot, sting long after the details of that plot have faded.
"This novel is like a launched torpedo slashing through 400 pages of deep water before reaching impact. Enjoy one of the best thriller rides ever."David Baldacci
"THE ESCAPE ARTIST has a magic trick up its sleeve. Part Lisbeth Salander, part Homeland's Carrie Mathison. One of the most memorable characters I've read in years. Look outNola's coming. This is Meltzer in peak form."Lisa Scottoline
"Highly entertaining... Meltzer keeps the action crackling... There's no escaping the solid storytelling of THE ESCAPE ARTIST."
Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"THE ESCAPE ARTIST is Brad Meltzer's best book in years... Meltzer weaves a stellar tale of history, government-insider knowledge, and thrills... the rare novel that one wants to read fast while also needing to go slow to savor every word."Jeff Ayers, Associated Press
"Brad Meltzer has done it again! THE ESCAPE ARTIST is an exciting, cutting-edge thriller you will not be able to put down. If you love twists, tension, and tons of amazing characters, treat yourself to this gripping tale by one of the absolute best in the business."Brad Thor
"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
"THE ESCAPE ARTIST is a slingshot of a novel. Brad Meltzer expertly pulls it back and lets it go, propelling the unlikeliest of heroes forward in a high stakes, high tension thriller that never lets you catch your breath. My advice: Buckle up!"Michael Connelly
"A throat-clenching masterpiece of suspense-and damned ingenious to boot. My jaw dropped once moreand so will yours."James Rollins
"Stellar...With its remarkable plot and complex characters, this page-turner not only entertains but also provides a fascinating glimpse into American history." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Gripping... a true page-turner." Library Journal (starred review)
"Meltzer has based his literary career on conspiracy-themed stories, and he's very good at them. In Nola and Zig, too, he's created two of his most compellingly fresh characters. Nola, in particular, represents a high point in the author's career: a strong, resourceful, mysterious female lead who could go toe-to-toe with Jack Reacher, Bob Lee Swagger, and the other guys. First of a new series, according to the publisher, and that's just fine."
Jim "Zig" Zigarowski is a mortician at Dover Air Force Base, where he prepares the returning bodies of U.S. heroes so they can have proper burial, and thus providing closure for the families. Years earlier, a girl named Nola Brown saved his daughter from severe injury, and now her corpse arrives at Dover after a suspicious plane crash in Alaska that also killed other government operatives. Feeling grateful to Nola, Zig intercepts her body to prepare it himself. He quickly realizes the dead woman is not Nola and wonders about her true identity. This discovery sets Zig on a harrowing path of danger, subterfuge, and government secrets as he searches for Nola and tries to discover the secret that has made her a danger to the government she serves as the U.S. Army's artist-in-residence. VERDICT Weaving the past with the present and creating a conspiracy with connections to magician Harry Houdini, Meltzer's series launch is a gripping thriller that will not disappoint his many fans. A true page-turner. [See Prepub Alert, 9/25/17]—Sandra Knowles, South Carolina State Lib., Columbia