Saturday, December 23, 2017

Book Reviews: The Escape

The Escape
by David Baldacci
This was another book that I picked up on sale. Although it was part of a series, and not the first, I didn't know that before I purchased it. And it really does stand alone. There was never a point in this story where I thought that I should have read the other books before reading this one. The author gives you just enough back story to let you know the major points. But because of how the story is set up and progresses, there's really very little back story needed. So if you are a person who normally refuses to read an installment in a series before you've read the first one I don't think you'll need to adhere to that rule in this case. If you do you'll miss an entertaining story.

This book opens up with a bang, literally. In Leavenworth, Kansas there is a very bad thunderstorm. During this storm the generators and the backup power supply go out at the United States Disciplinary Barracks. That's not supposed to happen, ever. All the cell doors open. There are apparently shots fired. And that's pretty scary because none of the guards are supposed to have guns at this military prison. When power is restored, the guards do a headcount. It looks like every prisoner is accounted for except for one, perhaps the most important prisoner. Disgraced Air Force Major Robert Puller, previously convicted of treason and espionage, is missing. And there's an unidentified dead man in his cell. Until his conviction, Robert Puller, a certifiable genius, was on the fast track to high rank and great responsibility in the Air Force. Robert's areas of expertise included military intelligence, WMD verification and cyber-security. 

Robert would have been one of the youngest Lieutenant Colonels, youngest Colonels and eventually one of the youngest Generals. But right now Robert is just an escaped convict whose capture is considered one of the nation's highest national security priorities.


Army Chief Warranty Officer John Puller is Robert Puller's younger brother. John's a decorated combat veteran. John's not quite as super smart as his big brother but he's far more intelligent and observant than most people, traits that serve him well in his work as part of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command.  John is also the more physically dangerous of the two Puller men. Against all military protocols, John Puller is assigned to capture his brother. There's no way John should be assigned to this mission, something that makes him wonder if he's being set up. Additionally the intelligence agent Veronica Knox is also sent to tag along with John on his search. Veronica rarely tells John the full truth about anything. 

And Veronica knows more than she ought to about certain topics and less than she should about others. The fact that Veronica is attractive complicates John's responses. In no short time John, who hasn't previously spent a lot of time questioning Robert's guilt, realizes that there might be more to this case than meets the eye. And there are some people inside and outside of the military and intelligence circles who might not want Robert Puller brought in alive.

This was a long book but it didn't drag. There were a few frustrating moments dealing with various bureaucracies and political infighting but overall that added to the book's realism. Every officer is looking for his or her next promotion and tries not to do anything to jeopardize that.  The reader will want to keep turning pages and see what happens next. This was a book that straddled the lines between locked room mystery, detective novel, action thriller and suspense. You'll enjoy how the smarter characters pick up on the tiniest things to determine if someone is lying to them or isn't a friend. Of course no one here is a mind reader. People make mistakes, even people like John, who can tell a lot about a person just by looking at the pictures on their work desk. This is a book begging to be made into a film.
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