David Baldacci is poised to directly hit the top of the bestseller list with his latest effort, THE ESCAPE, the third installment in his series featuring military investigator John Puller, who was also seen in ZERO DAY and THE FORGOTTEN.
While Baldacci has become a quite prolific writer, publishing at least three books a year for the past several years, there has been no letup in his writing style. Other authors who release with the same or better frequency often have their work diluted. But not so with Baldacci, whose writing remains as intense and intricately plotted with each successive effort.
"THE ESCAPE is a vital and relevant thriller that will call to mind both the Edward Snowden case and the risk our nation faces every day with WMDs that could be used against us at a moment's notice. Hold your breath and enjoy the ride."
What THE ESCAPE does is depict real world situations steeped in deep government secrecy that will make you believe Baldacci has a direct line to the inner sanctum of the U.S. government. The thrills, no matter how fantastic, are extremely and scarily plausible, and the result is a novel that reads like a summer beach thriller. A year ago, no one in the U.S. probably worried about Ebola, yet THE ESCAPE has a potential Ebola attack on the nation's capital as the apex of the many chilling plot twists included within.
The novel opens with the “escape” of the book’s title, which involves Robert Puller, the older brother of our protagonist. Robert has been imprisoned in the United States Disciplinary Barracks that sits next to Leavenworth in the center of the nation. He is there for allegedly selling government secrets to our enemies and breaching national security. Prior to his incarceration, he was in line to take a leadership position within a branch of the U.S. intelligence community.
Puller is tasked by the U.S. government and some extremely powerful intelligence and military leaders to bring his brother in. The inexplicable escape from what was supposedly an impenetrable prison proves that Robert is not to be taken lightly and may very well be working with others --- possibly enemies of the United States.
Puller himself is assigned a partner in this initiative --- an agent named Veronica Knox, who may have an agenda of her own. Baldacci deftly keeps readers in suspense as to where Knox's true allegiance lies throughout the entire novel. Robert gets in contact with Puller, swearing his innocence. It seems that some dangerous and traitorous individuals within the U.S. government wanted to keep Robert from taking control in his new position. This also involves the possible partnership with one of our Cold War enemies, who has once again emerged as a threat to the West.
The plot moves forward at a fast pace with surprises around nearly every corner. Baldacci has the writing skill to rely on the interpersonal relationships of his characters to drive things forward rather than utilizing technology or other tools to solve problems. THE ESCAPE is a vital and relevant thriller that will call to mind both the Edward Snowden case and the risk our nation faces every day with WMDs that could be used against us at a moment's notice. Hold your breath and enjoy the ride.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 20, 2014