Book review: The Escape by David Baldacci

Saturday, November 8, 2014 Permalink
by David Baldacci

Robert Puller’s escape from the *unescapable* fortress of the US Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth during a power outage comes as a surprise to everyone. Especially his younger brother and military (CID) investigator John Puller who – until that point – had believed Robert to be innocent of the treason charge which led to his incarceration over two years earlier. John’s doubts about his brother’s innocence are further challenged when he learns a man was killed during the escape.

Inexplicably and going against military policy, John finds himself assigned to the investigation of his brother’s escape, partnered with Veronica Knox (a US intelligence officer).

Soon it becomes obvious that everything is not as it seems. John and Knox discover the man found dead in Robert’s cell is unidentifiable (and of Eastern European descent). Indeed he shouldn’t have been in the prison at all. And when some crucial evidence about the power outage disappears it becomes obvious that the ‘escape’ was planned. In fact, John realises it may have been less of an escape and more of an attempt on Robert’s life. His brother may have only killed in self defence and taken the opportunity to run when it presented itself.

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After an attempt is made on John’s life and his investigation thwarted at every turn by a myriad of US government agencies he realises he needs to look into the charges laid against his brother two years earlier. After a bit of digging it appears that Robert might be innocent of all charges, but chose not to appeal after threats were made to his family.

I enjoyed David Baldacci’s latest offering featuring Chief Warrant Officer John Puller (Jr) – the third in this particular series. According to Goodreads I’ve only read Zero Day  (the first) but I didn’t struggle at all with backstory or continuity.

John and Robert are really likeable characters – possibly a bit too good to be true at times, but we all love a hero and they both certainly fit the bill. I’d actually love to see more of Robert in future novels in this series.

I wasn’t as enamoured with John’s sidekick… Veronica Knox. Given her ties to secretive government agencies and ongoing reticence to share her knowledge with John we (along with our two heros) were suspicious of her throughout much of the novel. Plus, I’d initially seen her as an IT/intelligence guru, but then she seemed to also be an action hero, so I was a tad confused about who she was or supposed to be. (Which was possibly done on purpose of course!)

My only other issue with the novel related to the bloody government agencies and their acronyms. Perhaps US readers will better understand the roles of various offices within agencies and so forth, but it meant little to me. However, I was easily able to skim over this information and focus on the complex plot itself – involving military technology and secrets – which was far more interesting than I initially expected.

In summary, The Escape is another fast-paced and action-packed offering from Baldacci with enough twists and turns to keep even the fussiest of suspense / thriller lovers happy.

The Escape by David Baldacci was released in Oz via Pan MacMillan on 1 November 2014 and in other countries later in the month.

I received an advance copy of this book via the publisher.

PS. Pondered over the unescapable / inescapable dilemma but (after some googling and discovering both are correct) decided on ‘un’ – to indicate it’s about physical impossibility. (And yes, I am prone to over-thinking!) 😉

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