The Escape – The Finisher by David Baldacci – Reviews, Interview & Giveaway
John Puller series – Book #3
by David Baldacci
Release Date: November 18, 2014
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It’s a prison unlike any other. Military discipline rules. Its security systems are unmatched. None of its prisoners dream of escaping. They know it’s impossible.
John Puller’s older brother, Robert, was convicted of treason and national security crimes. His inexplicable escape from prison makes him the most wanted criminal in the country. Some in the government believe that John Puller represents their best chance at capturing Robert alive, and so Puller takes on the burden of bringing his brother in to face justice.
But Puller quickly discovers that there are others pursuing his brother, who only see Robert as a traitor and are unconcerned if he survives. Puller is in turn pushed into an uneasy, fraught partnership with another agent, who may have an agenda of her own.
They dig more deeply into the case together, and Puller finds that not only are her allegiances unclear, but that there are troubling details about his brother’s conviction….and that someone is out there who doesn’t want the truth to ever come to light. As the nationwide manhunt for Robert grows more urgent, Puller’s masterful skills as an investigator and strength as a fighter may not be enough to save his brother—or himself.
The Escape by David Baldacci is the 3rd book in his John Puller series. I am a huge fan of Baldacci, as with every book he writes, he leaves me amazed how he could write such a mesmerizing story every time. I have not read the John Puller series until this book, and after reading this, I will go back to read the first two. Having said that, it was easy to read this as a standalone. Baldacci gives us enough information to allow use to know the characters, and John Puller.
The Escape starts inside a military prison that has maximum security beyond normal, and impossible to escape. But after a major storm knocks out the power, including a second generator, shots are fired, and an explosion. When everything is restored, a prisoner is missing. Robert Puller, a former high ranking intelligence officer, has been in prison for two years, having been convicted for treason, and now he has escaped, leaving all high ranking Military officials in a state of panic.
John Puller, who is one of the army’s best military investigators is called in to help find his brother, as well as how the security breach at the prison was done. John is a by the book no nonsense investigator, who loyalty has always been to his country. Though it is his brother, he is determined to find him. Before he can get too far, he is forced work with intelligence officer Veronica Knox, who was sent to work with John. As they both begin putting the pieces together of the escape, as well as deciphering who was the dead body that was found in Robert Puller’s cell, it becomes apparent there is more to this story, then just an escape. Though Knox and Puller find it hard to trust each other, they slowly come to the realization that there is a conspiracy that is very high up. Was Robert Puller really guilty of treason?
The story does go back and forth early between John and Veronica investigating, and Robert, who has changed his appearance, doing his own investigation to clear his name. What follows is an extremely intense, suspenseful and exciting adventure in the hunt to find Robert Puller, as well as all the twists, surprises and turns that leave you blindsided. Baldacci pulls you into this fantastic story from the start, and never let’s go even through the end. This was such an enthralling story, with a wild climatic ending, that amazed me how all the pieces so neatly and almost impossibly fell into place.
As I have said earlier, I love the writing of David Baldacci. I have read his Camel Club (my favorite), Will Robie, and King & Maxwell series. Now I will be adding on the John Puller series. If you like suspense thrillers, political intrigues, military or CIA agents as our lead characters, no one writes these better then Baldacci. He weaves such a great story, with so many twists, detailed information, betrayals, it simply amazes me how he can do all of this, and so flawlessly. Needless to say, I loved The Escape. If you have not read David Baldacci, you are missing gems.
Reviewed by Barb
Copy provided by Publisher
by David Baldacci
Release Date: March 4, 2014
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Welcome to Wormwood: a place where curiosity is discouraged and no one has ever left.
Until one girl, Vega Jane, discovers a map that suggests a mysterious world beyond the walls. A world with possibilities and creatures beyond her imagining.
But she will be forced to fight for her freedom. And unravelling the truth may cost Vega her life.
The Finisher by David Baldacci is the first book in his new YA fantasy series. When I started reading The Finisher, we learn about a place called Wormwood, and a young 14 year old girl name Vega Jane, who would be our heroine.
Vega and her brother, John, live in the slums. They barely have enough to eat each day. Vega works at The Stacks, putting finishing touches to items for those who have money. Her title is the Finisher, and her only friend there is Quentin Herms, who taught her everything. The story begins when Quentin disappears into the Quag, a forbidden forest that surrounds Wormwood, and has dangerous creatures that will kill them as soon as they step into the Quag. No one must ever leave Wormwood, which in itself is depressing.
The Wormwood council knows that Vega was close to Quentin, and they put pressure on her to find out what she knows. What they do not know is that she caught a glimpse of him, as he stepped into the Quag. But Vega knows she cannot reveal that as many of those men who work for the council do not like her, something she feels has to do with her family, who are no longer with her. Early on there was a lot of ground work for the world building, and a ¼ of the way in, I wasn’t sure if this was for me. But I am glad I stayed with it, as it became a great story.
As Vega tries to find the truth about Quentin, and what the Quag really is, she faces an uphill battle against thet attitude of the men in Wormwood; the Council and a powerful adversary, who has powers beyond what anyone can imagine. All Vega really has is Delpha, her friend, especially after her brother moves to become part of the upper class. As she investigates the past and history of Wormwood, she begins to discover magical things that will help her in what she will face in the future. In some scary moments, she sees creatures, as well as being pulled into the past. Vega will find herself in a competition that is meant for men only, and she needs to survive or they will put her away or worst yet, kill her.
Vega will use everything she has, as well as some magical tools that were cool…a chain that helps her fly, a stone that heals, and a magical sword. Those were fun, as this is fantasy. This was really a different type of world, with strange customs, and language, which Baldacci used throughout. But most of all, the last half of the book was extremely nerve wrecking and exciting. Vega fought against prejudice, and all odds, but when all was said and done, she had everyone including us rooting for her. The ending has sort of a partial resolution, but it is a cliffhanger that cries for another book.
Reviewed by Barb
Copy provided by Publisher
We were very excited and honored to be asked to participate in a telephone interview with David Baldacci. David is promoting his wonderful new release, The Escape, as well as talk about his previously released, The Finisher, a YA Fantasy. We have selected some of these great questions from the conference call that we thought you would enjoy.
In your books, the female characters are as tough as the men and then some. I’m thinking of Michelle Maxwell. I’m thinking of course of Vega Jane in your young adult novel. Why so many strong women in your pages? Why is this something that interests you?
David: I don’t write about damsels in distress because I don’t happen to know any. I have a lot of guy friends that need a lot of help and not so much the women.
I grew up with a force of nature in my mother. And I’m married to a force of nature with my wife, whose name is Michelle. So, if you’re wondering who the role model for Michelle Maxwell was, you have the answer. So, that’s why.
What I found amazing in your stories is the detail that flows seamlessly. My question is not the research part, but how you set your story. Are you a plotter with some sort of outline, or a pantser writing with the flow?
David: I don’t do really major outlines for my novels. I’ve always thought, rightly or wrongly, that if I wrote from an outline it would really read to everyone like I wrote from an outline where everything’s sort of neatly tied together and just flows in just the right way. And life is not really like that.
So, a lot of what I do is sort of the seat of my pants. I do get into the story, and I have the character flow in my head and I have plot ideas in my head. But, I just sit down in front of my computer or sometimes in front of a legal pad and just let it fly and see what works.
And some days I think I’m going to go in one direction but I happen to go in another because it just feels right. I think my instincts over the years have served me well. So, I really just like to innovate and be creative right there while I’m sitting down in front of the screen and just let the words pop out of me.
I know it feels like it’s almost happening spontaneously, but I’ve always thought the subconscious is just another way of saying things you’ve been thinking about a long time at a certain level, and they bubble to the surface. And we think we just thought of them, but actually we’ve been ruminating on them for a long time.
And that’s the way I like to write. I’ll do little mini outlines here and there for a particular chapter to make sure that I get all the points in there that I want to have. But, for the broader strokes, you know, all of it’s in my head and I just like to sit down and play around with it and see where it takes me.
What was your inspiration for The Camel Club? Do you think you’ll go back to this series.
David: People love The Camel Club.
I just wanted to do something really different where I had an ensemble cast of some guys who had had some mileage on them. They weren’t particularly young or fit anymore. And in many ways, people looked at them as being past their prime.
But, I thought that they had a lot of fuel left in the tank and that, together as a group, they were greater than they were apart. And again, it was just another sort of matter of me stretching my creative wings and going in a different direction and trying to build something I’d never built before.
And a lot of the characteristics they’ve had, people over the years–you know, I’ve observed some of these idiosyncrasies and physical mannerisms and things in people and grafted them onto some of the characters in The Camel Club. I’ve never taken anybody from real life and plopped them whole cloth into a book, but certainly bits and pieces of observations I’ve made over the years.
And I just wanted to build this really quirky kind of group that were sort of conspiracy theorists but had some specialized background and knowledge that actually made them effective doing what they did. And I didn’t want them to be, you know, in official power and I didn’t want them to be associated with any organization. I just wanted them to be people out there who had some unique skills and had some mileage on them, and put them into adventures and situations where they could show they still had a lot of worth and value left.
And it turned out to be really fun. When I wrote the first one, The Camel Club, I wasn’t thinking they were going to be a series. I tell you, when I wrote the last book I was thinking these guys are going to come back. The Camel Club will ride again!
I wanted to talk about your choice to write fantasy and The Finisher, because it’s not just sort of a realistic story in a fantasy setting, you know, like a bunch of wizards at Hogwarts who are really just like regular kids. I mean, it has the full fantasy world, the history, the vocabulary. I just wondered if you had the idea to write fantasy first and kind of built the world around it, or did you have this idea of the fantasy world that drove the plot and the genre that you decided to tackle?
David: The Finisher was really a passion project for me. My wife gave me a blank page book on Christmas day in 2008. And I would warn anybody who has a writer in their family, never give them blank pieces of paper on a major holiday because you will never see them for the rest of the day.
I just scooted off to my little cubby and started. I wrote the name down, Vega Jane, and I knew she was going to be the lead character, but I didn’t know what she was going to be doing. And it took me over four years to finally figure out the world that I wanted to place her in, what her role would be in that, and what the total story, plot, and narrative would be and what the other characters around her would be like.
So, I knew that I wanted to create an entirely new world. I didn’t want to place, you know, just an individual in the world as we know it now. So, when you build a world like that, it takes a lot of time and effort and thinking. And I had to put a lot of research into that, because in The Finisher a lot of the terms and references come from mythology, classical works of fantasy, religion.
I wanted to build this world in a smart way. I didn’t want to start naming stuff for the habit of naming something. I–you know, for instance, the jabbit, the giant serpent in the story, is actually based on Persian mythology. In their mythology, it’s called a dabbet, but I thought a jabbit was a much better term. And it just seemed like something that actually a snake would do, so I had a lot of fun with those.
And in putting the whole world together, I tried to do it as meticulously and carefully as I could. And what I did was, I didn’t create a huge world and address is superficially. I built a very small world, a village and a Quag around it, and that was it with a limited number of characters. But, I gave great depth to everything that I wrote about.
You do a lot of work for libraries and literacy. You have a family literacy foundation, and this is a cause that you’ve been very passionate about. And, you know, the world gets more and more digital and sometimes people say, “Why are books still important? Why are people reading stories?” Why do you do this work that you do?
David: I was a library rat as a kid. And we’ve always had stories. You know, humankind evolved around stories, whether it was hieroglyphics or drawings on the wall, tales that were told down, oral histories provided. So, we are a race and a civilization that grew up with stories and we love stories, because it communicates a lot of things from one generation to the next.
And libraries, for me, I’ve always considered them the foundation of the democracy. You walk into a building and it’s filled full with books. But, it’s really filled with ideas and diversity of opinion, and the things that are very important to people in a free and open society.
So, it really doesn’t matter how people read. I don’t care if you read on an e-book or you listened on an audio book or you read a paperback or a hardcover. What matters is that you read. You read the story.
And I’ve always thought that readers are far more interesting than people who don’t read, because you just are exposed to so much more. Your level of tolerance is far higher. You’re open-minded and you’re open to new ideas and opinions.
And it just makes you a much better, well-rounded person, plus the fact that, you know, reading is the most fundamental skill you’ll ever have. And without it, you can never achieve your potential. And so, people should just dive into as many books as they possible can.
David Baldacci is a global #1 bestselling author. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print; several have been adapted for both feature film and television. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit him at www.DavidBaldacci.com and his foundation at www.WishYouWellFoundation.org.
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Grand Central Publishing and Scholastic are graciously offering a wonderful David Baldacci 4 book prize pack to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.
The John Puller series – Zero Day, The Forgotten, and The Escape
The Finisher – YA Fantasy
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