THE ESCAPE by David Baldacci

Four stars (of five)

Baldacci brings his readers another great novel, turning back to John Puller and his thrilling antics. When power goes out at Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, chaos follows. A headcount soon reveals that Robert Puller is nowhere to be found and an unidentified body lays in his bunk. Puller, convicted of treason, is feared on the lam and the military remain baffled as to how he’s escaped. Younger brother, John Puller, has been asked by the military to investigate and determine how Robert might have slipped through the cracks from a facility deemed impenetrable. While he begins his investigation, he runs into Veronica Knox, independent woman who is assigned to work with John. They iron out some of the wrinkles in their personalities before forging ahead and determine that a plot deep within Fort Leavenworth itself might be to blame. Could Robert Puller have been convicted on illegitimate testimony; his imprisonment to ensure someone else climbed the military promotions ladder in his place? Might there be a larger and more complex web of lies and treason, seeking to bury Puller and wreak havoc on the United States? After locating the elder Puller, John and Knox must work through the evidence and dodge those who have them in their crosshairs in order to save Robert and keep the US from succumbing to domestic terrorism. Baldacci ramps up the action and thrills in this high-impact novel.

Baldacci has a golden touch as it relates to his thriller novels. His ideas are far-reaching and the ability to keep the reader engaged never lessens. His continual male-female leads helps create wonderful banter sure to keep the novel’s pace from waning, though the sexual tension in each appears to have a cookie-cutter effect and remains somewhat predicable. With his numerous series on the go and producing great results, I wonder about a character mix. While it was done in a recent short-story, I am curious to see if this would work in a full-length book. Perhaps something to investigate in the years to come, not that he is not busy enough.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci for another great instalment in the Puller series. Goes to show that you are at the top of your game.

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