The Lightning Rod (Escape Artist #2), by Brad Meltzer

Eight stars

Always a fan of Brad Meltzer’s work, I was eager to get my hands on this latest book. Full of twists and turns, Meltzer does well with this second novel in a newer series. When mortician Jim ‘Zig’ Zigarowski begins working to prepare Archie Mint for his funeral, things soon take an interesting turn. Making his way to Dover Air Force Base, Zig soon learns that Mint has a connection to a secret military group, which opens many doors and creates some mysteries. Zig’s acquaintance, Nola Brown also appears to have a connection, but she flees before it can be established. How does Nola fit into the story and what does her troubled past bring to the table with this covert mission that is slowly revealed? Meltzer does well with this novel and adds an impactful second instalment to the stunning series., sure to impress many readers.

Loving his job, Jim ‘Zig’ Zigarowski does all he can to love the best life possible. A mortician by trade, Zig works closely with the US Military, providing help with military funerals for Dover Air Force Base. While working on the body of army vet Archie Mint, Zig finds something that confuses him. Mint was said to be a wholesome family man, but there’s something more to the story here.

Zig travels to Dover for some answers, hoping that his contact there, military artist Sergeant First Class Nola Brown, might have some answers. Nola is mum about Mint, though she appears highly troubled by Zig’s bringing him up. Furthermore, she disappears before long, leaving Zig to wonder what the connections might be and whether Nola is harbouring a secret of her own.

It would seem that Mint was involved with a covert military operation, one that only a few have been read into beforehand. Stockpiling a number of vaccines and preparatory items for some sort of attack, this group was getting ready for something highly sinister. It’s now that Zig realises how problematic things can get and want answers. Might Mint’s death not simply been a home invasion gone wrong?

As the story picks up its pace, much is revealed and Zig finds himself in the crosshairs. Working as best he can, Zig uses Nola’s long-estranged brother to lure her out. The race to learn the truth takes many twists before things come to light. All the while Nola has some secrets of her own with are aure to come out if she is not careful. These could sink her reputation and make her even more vulnerable, forcing her to make some tough decisions. With a killer on the loose and secrets piling up, Zig and Nola will have to be careful not to fall into a trap, or risk losing it all. Meltzer does well to keep the reader in the thick of it all, as he builds a strong foundation for this series.

I have come to really admire all that Brad Meltzer brings to his novels, which are full of mystery and duplicity. There’s something amazing to be found in the pages of this book, written in such a way that the reader cannot easily stop getting hooked with the plot lines. Strong writing and intriguing characters provide a decent platform for all to enjoy, particularly those familiar with Meltzer’s work.

Zig and Nola are back for more fun, but neither is eager to take the limelight. There is a little more Zig backstory offered, though much of it can be found in the series debut. Still, Zig offers up some wonderful development as he probes deeper in tot the mysteries that are the US Military. Nola Brown has much to offer in this piece, full of the secrets she has kept for years, including a brother who has long been hiding in the shadows. The reader is taken on quite a ride throughout, allowing the protagonists to offer up tidbits while the plot takes off.

Meltzer’s work is something perfect for the reader who needs action to sustain themselves. His novels are always full of intrigue and keep the reader guessing with every page turn. The narrative moves along effectively and keeps the reader guessing what awaits them, using plot developments that are full of twists. Nothing is as it seems, which makes the novel all the more exciting. With a number of great characters throughout, Meltzer entertains the reader as they make their way through this strong piece. While the series can be a tad confusing, dedicated readers will lap it up and beg for more, as I am surely doing. Eager to see what’s next and how things will progress.

Kudos, Mr. Meltzer, for another smashing success. Don;t hold back, as your fans await more mind-tingling writing soon!