5 stars out of 5
It's impossible to describe what a treat it is to read a well-written action thriller that kept me turning pages even when I should have been doing other things and kept me wondering how it would turn out until close to the end. Of course, it shouldn't have come as a big surprise; this is the third book featuring U.S. Army Special Agent John Puller, and I gave 5 stars to Book No. 2, Zero Day, and 4 to the first, The Forgotten.
This one, though, has a major twist; Puller's intellectually gifted older brother, Robert, has been convicted or treason and has been in a high-security military prison. Then one day, he somehow escapes, leaving an unidentified dead man in his cell (who, apparently, he has murdered). Then something truly unheard of happens: John Puller is allowed to hunt down his brother and bring him in. On the surface, it doesn't feel right; just as an attorney shouldn't defend nor a surgeon operate on a close relative, under normal circumstances Puller wouldn't be allowed near the case. Some government big-wigs, though, seem to think he's the person best qualified to get the job done, and in part because he's never quite believed his brother really committed treasonous acts, Puller agrees.
Very early on, it becomes clear that some folks don't want Robert Puller brought in alive - and they may well be lurking among the very folks who gave John Puller the assignment. Also early on, the younger Puller finds himself stuck with a mostly unwanted female partner - also an agent, but not necessarily allied with the same powers-that-be as Puller. Who to trust, in fact, becomes an almost bigger issue than trying to find a runaway soldier whose skills and experience in the field may be sharper than Puller's - and he's no slouch in either department. The only thing that's crystal clear is that something big is afoot, and some very powerful people want to make sure the truth never gets out no matter what the human cost.
The Escape by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing, November 2014); 470 pp.