Escape Artist, A Zig & Nola Novel: Book 2
From the publisher:
Zig and Nola are back—in the hugely entertaining, highly anticipated follow-up to Brad Meltzer’s #1 New York Times bestselling thriller The Escape Artist.
What’s the one secret no one knows about you?
Archie Mint has a secret. He’s led a charmed life—he’s got a beautiful wife, two impressive kids, and a successful military career. But when he’s killed while trying to stop a robbery in his own home, his family is shattered—and then shocked when the other shoe drops. Mint’s been hiding criminal secrets none of them could have imagined.
While working on Mint’s body before his funeral, mortician “Zig” Zigarowski discovers something he was never meant to see. That telling detail leads him to Mint’s former top secret military unit and his connection to artist Nola Brown. Two years ago, Nola saved Zig’s life—so he knows better than most that she’s as volatile and dangerous as a bolt of lightning.
Following Nola’s trail, he uncovers one of the U.S. government’s most intensely guarded secrets—an undisclosed military facility that dates back to the Cold War and holds the key to something far more sinister: a hidden group willing to compromise the very safety and security of America itself.
Trouble always finds her…
She’s the lightning rod.https://amzn.to/3wuzLc5
This is the sequel to The Escape Artist, which I read several years ago. That book made my Best Books of the Year for 2018 list. Bonus – I remember more than I usually do because these characters are not your typical run-of-the-mill private detectives or cops or Feds or whatever. Instead, Zig is a mortician at Dover Air Force base, working on the bodies of fallen American soldiers. Nola is the U.S. military’s Artist-in-Residence, which means she goes to locations of tragedy or war (she gets to pick) and draws and/or paints what she sees – a job I had never heard of. Leave it to Meltzer to ferret out these interesting positions and incorporate them into a thriller – now a series. These characters might be considered “amateurs” like the kind you find in many cozy mysteries, but trust me, there is nothing cozy about this book, it is a thriller started on page one. The good news is that you do not have to read the first book in the series to understand this one; it stands alone beautifully.
I love these characters and we learn more about them this time, especially the enigmatic Nola. All the characters are interesting, multi-dimensional, diverse, and fully realized. The situations they find themselves in are often not of their own doing, but their resolve, ingenuity, and tenacity gets them where they need to go. That said, the body count is high and this is not a book for the squeamish. There are an almost a dizzying number of twists and turns and the pages fly by in this unputdownable thriller. Yes, I stayed up late to finish it! This is a worthy sequel, and the second book of what is shaping up to be one of my must-read series.
If you are not familiar, Meltzer does a ton of research for his books. I know this because over the past several years, on occasion I have helped him access obscure articles or articles behind paywalls. So trust me when I tell you that even though you may never have heard of some of the things in his books, they are generally based on impeccable research, including personal interviews with various government officials, even including Presidents (many have been fans of his work!)
I met Meltzer when I was working at Borders Books. His parents (since deceased) lived in Boca Raton, where I worked, and one day he stopped in to see if we had his book – his first novel, The Tenth Justice. In a funny coincidence, I had just read it and loved it. We chatted a bit and that was that. Or so I thought. He told me that I was the first bookseller he ever met who had actually read his book, and honestly, I thought he was full of it. But then a few years later, he told that story to a few hundred people at a booksigning at Barnes & Noble, when I was in the crowd with my daughter. And he’s repeated it since. So we have had a fairly long relationship – I believe he just celebrated the 25th anniversary of that first published novel. Brad is a really good guy, down to earth, madly in love with his wife, and consumed by his children – he once did an event for me at the Palm Beach County Library that we had to schedule around his coaching his son’s baseball team. Or t-ball. Whatever. The guy is a mensch – buy his book!
Watch Brad discuss The Lightning Rod with Seth Meyers!
3/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE LIGHTNING ROD by Brad Meltzer. William Morrow (March 8, 2022). ISBN: 978-0062892409. 432p.