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Nola (named after the city) Brown is a truly damaged yet kick-ass woman; bright, tough beyond belief, and an amazingly talented artist. In fact, she is the youngest artist-in-residence the military has ever had. What that means is she decides where she wants to go and when she gets there she draws anything she wants. It turns out she sees a lot more than most people, and saved many lives because of her eye.

Zig is a mortician at Dover Air Force base who works on fallen soldiers. He considers himself to be an artist, and his work is his life. He got divorced after his young daughter died.

When Nola Brown’s body comes into Dover after a fatal small plane crash, Zig is shocked to discover the woman he’s working on is not Nola. He knew Nola as a child, she was in Girl Scouts with his daughter and saved her life after a can exploded near a campfire. Nola took the shrapnel instead, leaving her ear disfigured but the ears on the woman on Zig’s table are perfect.

Thus begins a twisty, at times violent, roller coaster ride of a thriller. There is a lot of really fascinating information on the death process of fallen soldiers, history about Houdini, his friends and family, and about magic in general. I love how I inevitably learn something from Meltzer’s novels, his research is always impeccable. The story moves back and forth between Nola’s childhood and present day, and that helps keep the pages turning.

The surprises keep coming, the pacing is relentless, and the body count high in this terrific political thriller. (And librarians, the President appointed Librarian of Congress plays a prominent part!) Readers who love strong women protagonists like Lisbeth Salander (Stieg Larsson,) Caitlin Strong (Jon Land,) and even Katniss (Suzanne Collins) will love Nola Brown.

Another terrific read from one of my favorite authors (and one of my favorite people!) Don’t miss it.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ESCAPE ARTIST by Brad Meltzer. Grand Central Publishing (March 6, 2018). ISBN: 978-1455559527. 434p.


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