Adventure In Reading - David Baldacci - The Escape
The Author and This Book
David Baldacci was a lawyer for nine years. He was educated at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. During the last three years of his law career he wrote his first published novel - Absolute Power - which became an international best seller. It was made into a move starring Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman. He began writing as a child in a notebook but had nothing published until his first novel came out in 1996. Since then he has written 29 books for adults and 4 books for children. His books have been translated into more than 45 languages and published in more than 80 countries. There are more than 110 million copies of his books in print worldwide.
This book is the third in a series about the Puller family. It is a military family that has three very diverse members. The patriarch is retired military and in a care facility as his mental faculties fade in old age. Robert, the elder son, is an officer in the military who, at the beginning of this book, has been disgracefully convicted of treason. And John, the protagonist in most of the book is an enlisted man that defied his father by refusing to go to West Point and glide into the higher echelons of the military.
Although this book is primarily about redemption for the older son, it very quickly becomes involved in espionage and weapons of mass destruction. The book was published in 2014. It contains about 475 pages.
John Puller is a combat veteran and special agent with the U.S. Army. He is assigned to track down and bring in an accused murderer. In a harrowing opening couple chapters he does accomplish this without being wounded or killing the accused.
His brother, meanwhile, is incarcerated at the Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, Kansas. He is targeted to be killed by unknown assailants. Robert is able to turn the tables and instead of being killed, kills the killer and escapes from the DB. He then prepares himself to stay on the run for a while so that he can gain evidence to prove that he was not guilty of the treason for which he was sentenced.
John becomes aware of his brother's dilemma and is torn between two loyalties. There is the loyalty to the Army that has consumed his life as an adult and there is the loyalty to his brother and family that consumed his life until the military came along.
Several other characters enter the book which muddy the waters considerably. The most important to the story (and to John) is Veronica Knox. Veronica is a double dealing two-faced agent also employed by the government. She becomes embroiled in John's life.
John and Veronica find themselves thrown together to unravel the mysteries not only surrounding Robert's conviction but also to define and stop a major terrorist plot against the United States. Towards the end of the book, Robert joins the twosome and the three of them strive to prevent catastrophe.
There is a lot of action in the story. Almost all of the characters in the book are engaged in attempts at murder or in attempts to prevent murder. One page turning thrill after another leads the reader through a maze of government agencies. Most of the time, Robert's treason conviction falls into second place in list of concerns that John and Veronica have.
Robert keeps plugging away at evidence to overturn his conviction and gradually the paths of the three begin to merge. They finally have a common enemy but even that seems to have impenetrable barriers.
The action scurries up and down the east coast centering around Washington, DC, and the Virginia areas. Vehicles are demolished and houses are incinerated. Everyone is seriously wounded.
The mystery surrounding the terrorist attack involves more and more of the hierarchy of the federal government. Foreign agents execute some of those persons in the hierarchy.
When finally the mysteries are all resolved, the love attached that has grown between John and Veronica reaches a culmination. There is a reunion between the Puller sons and their father that will tug at the emotional strings of the reader. Robert is returned to his status prior to his courts martial experience. John and Veronica are back on duty. The senior Puller remains in the care facility.
The book is thrillingly long and involved. It does, however, drive directly toward the ending. The story wends itself through various small sidetracks that although it may not seem important at the time are relevant to the outcome. In spite of its length, it held my attention seriously through several sittings.
I rate it at about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.