The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer
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The Escape Artist Audiobook by Brad Meltzer depicts a military mystery where the first leading character, a middle-aged mortician, “Zig” from the Dover secret facility finds the body of a soldier and artist-in-residence from the U.S Army. The soldier is named Nola Brown, and the plot starts at the right moment that the reader discovers he knows Brown and that she was a friend of Zig’s deceased daughter.
The problem is that Brown saved his daughter from an explosion at scouts’ camp just a year before the mortician’s child died anyway (14 years ago). The explosion left recognizable scars in Nola, that weren’t present in that dead soldier’s body. This made Zig very suspicion.
After he found out a note on the dead soldier’s stomach saying “you were right, Nola. Keep running”. He realizes Brown is alive and is determined to find her. Zig gets obsessed with the idea of finding Nola. As his life is on standby since the death of his daughter, somehow he seems to think he’ll find some peace in helping the woman that once saved his child.
The enterprise becomes more and more dangerous as he gets near to the truth and the mystery goes around a group of people that have the same name from many years ago. When he finds Nola, she is eager to accept his help and tries to cut him off.
Nevertheless, as she realizes that he’s not letting her go, she starts manipulating him for her own interests while being ungrateful. Soon, he discovers that both him and Nola are trapped in the middle of what’s called “Operation Bluebook”, a secret initiative from the U.S Government that’s been on ever since the years of (and related to) Harry Houdini.
The Escape Artist Audiobook by Brad Meltzer is an intricate, yet very readable thriller that globes two really uncommon professions depicted by very broken characters. While Zig’s story is very sad as he suffers the worst kind of lost anyone can suffer, the loss of a child, he also suffers a divorce and stagnation in his life. He’s used to seeing dead and has nothing to lose, making him very fearless, even when his physical skills are almost non-existent.
On the other hand, Nola Brown was heavily abused by his adoptive father and also became a fearless woman. The fact that she works as an artist right in the middle of the war zone, armed with nothing else that paint and brushes say everything that is needed to say. This character is very determined, while she might not be interested and if the way she uses others is right or wrong, or if she needs to show gratitude.
Certainly, the characters are the most remarkable feature of this audiobook, which also develops into a very interesting conspiracy plot, regarding Harry Houdini, the greatest escapist magician in the world. Without a doubt, the audience will be clinging to their headphones while the audiobook sounds.
The only thing that may knock the hype a bit on The Escape Artist is that Brad Meltzer seems to neglect a bit on the credibility of the actions and dialogues. Trusting a bit too much on the “nothing-to-lose” feature of the characters as well as their own personal motives, Meltzer involves them in situations and conversations that are very amusing and shocking, but also very unlikely to happen in real life.
Is there really an “artist-in-residence” in the US Army?
Yes, since the WWI there’s an artist during every battle fought by the US government, in order to depict things that an artist’s eye can see that regular people wouldn’t even notice on a photo or video.
What are the characters based on?
Maybe the most amazing part of this audiobook is the fact that both main characters Nola, and Zig are real people that the author knew during a USO tour in Dover Air Force Base. Both the real mortician (who also keep his name) and the artist-in-residence (who was a woman on her 30’s) depict the characters in the book.
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