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The Lightning Rod
Cover of The Lightning Rod
The Lightning Rod
Escape Artist Series, Book 2
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New York Times Bestseller

"Nola is the most accomplished kicker of ass since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." —A. J. Finn

Zig and Nola are back—in the hugely entertaining, highly anticipated follow-up to Brad Meltzer's #1 New York Times bestselling thriller The Escape Artist.

What's the one secret no one knows about you?

Archie Mint has a secret. He's led a charmed life—he's got a beautiful wife, two impressive kids, and a successful military career. But when he's killed while trying to stop a robbery in his own home, his family is shattered—and then shocked when the other shoe drops. Mint's been hiding criminal secrets none of them could have imagined.

While working on Mint's body before his funeral, mortician "Zig" Zigarowski discovers something he was never meant to see. That telling detail leads him to Mint's former top secret military unit and his connection to artist Nola Brown. Two years ago, Nola saved Zig's life—so he knows better than most that she's as volatile and dangerous as a bolt of lightning.

Following Nola's trail, he uncovers one of the U.S. government's most intensely guarded secrets—an undisclosed military facility that dates back to the Cold War and holds the key to something far more sinister: a hidden group willing to compromise the very safety and security of America itself.

Trouble always finds her...

She's the lightning rod.

New York Times Bestseller

"Nola is the most accomplished kicker of ass since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." —A. J. Finn

Zig and Nola are back—in the hugely entertaining, highly anticipated follow-up to Brad Meltzer's #1 New York Times bestselling thriller The Escape Artist.

What's the one secret no one knows about you?

Archie Mint has a secret. He's led a charmed life—he's got a beautiful wife, two impressive kids, and a successful military career. But when he's killed while trying to stop a robbery in his own home, his family is shattered—and then shocked when the other shoe drops. Mint's been hiding criminal secrets none of them could have imagined.

While working on Mint's body before his funeral, mortician "Zig" Zigarowski discovers something he was never meant to see. That telling detail leads him to Mint's former top secret military unit and his connection to artist Nola Brown. Two years ago, Nola saved Zig's life—so he knows better than most that she's as volatile and dangerous as a bolt of lightning.

Following Nola's trail, he uncovers one of the U.S. government's most intensely guarded secrets—an undisclosed military facility that dates back to the Cold War and holds the key to something far more sinister: a hidden group willing to compromise the very safety and security of America itself.

Trouble always finds her...

She's the lightning rod.

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About the Author-
  • Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve thrillers including The Escape Artist, and nonfiction books such as The Lincoln Conspiracy and the Ordinary People Change the World series. He is also the host of the TV show Brad Meltzer's Decoded on the History Channel. He lives in Florida with his wife and three children.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    October 1, 2021

    Remember Meltzer's No. 1 New York Times best-selling The Escape Artist, which saw U.S. Air Force mortician Jim "Zig" Zigarowski desperately seeking mercurial U.S. Army artist-in-residence Nola Brown? He's seeking her again in this follow-up. As he prepares the body of star military man Archie Mint, killed while trying to prevent a robbery at his home, Zig realizes that Archie had a connection both to Nola and to a top-secret military group that could compromise the nation. Finding Nola requires linking up with her equally difficult brother. With a 250,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2021
    In this exciting followup to 2018's The Escape Artist, former military mortician Jim "Zig" Zigarowski does a favor for a friend and agrees to work on the body of a recently deceased lieutenant colonel. The man died a hero, defending his family from a home invasion, but, after Zig stumbles onto something no one was supposed to see, he unearths the dark, hidden side of the dead man's life. Stranger still, it seems the dead man had a connection to Nola Brown, the enigmatic artist whose near death was the launching point for The Escape Artist. Zig needs to talk to Nola if he's going to get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding the dead lieutenant colonel, but how to find her? That's a challenge all by itself because Nola Brown is a lightning rod for trouble. Meltzer likes his conspiracy stories, and he puts a lot of work into them, but he seems to love his characters just as much. Zig and Nola are two of his strongest characters, and it feels like there are plenty more stories to be told about them.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 13, 2021
    At the start of bestseller Meltzer’s exciting sequel to 2018’s The Escape Artist, a masked gunman fatally shoots Lt. Col. Archie Mint along with the thief who by chance was trying to rob Mint’s house in Elmswood, Pa. Mortician Jim “Zig” Zigarowski, who’s still grieving for his 12-year-old daughter who died in an accident a year earlier, has left the Air Force to work privately in Pennsylvania. A former colleague from Dover Air Force Base persuades him to prepare Mint’s body for an open casket. Zig is surprised on meeting the widow before the funeral that she was unaware her husband worked at Dover. Zig later learns Mint was involved in a top-secret military unit. Zig’s search for answers reunites him with Nola Brown, who was once the Army’s artist-in-residence and whose resourcefulness and kick-ass style help the pair decipher the links between the murders and dark government secrets. While the action overshadows characterizations, Meltzer makes his leads emotionally plausible. One hopes Zig and Nola will be back soon. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2022
    Zig and Nola are back in this fast-moving thriller laced with blood and wit. In "the last fourteen minutes of his life," Wojo the valet steals Archie Mint's BMW and drives it to the Mint family home, led there by the car's GPS. It's a robbery scheme that's worked before, but this time both the valet and Mint--who followed him--end up dead, shot by someone waiting in the house. Jim "Zig" Zigarowski works at Calta's Funeral Home and is an artist in making the dead look their very best. One woman "hasn't looked this good since Reagan was President," he's told. Before Calta's, he'd been a mortician at Dover Air Force Base, which houses "America's most secretive funeral home," for two decades. Zig's gift is to be able to repair any body, no matter how badly damaged. Now he's called back to Dover to take care of murdered veteran Lt. Col. Archie Mint. He has no idea what the government is up to, and he just wants to show the greatest respect for the dead. As he works, he always talks to the deceased as though to comfort them--he's odd but obviously decent. He's also a beekeeper who converses with the hive. Then, at the funeral home in Dover, he sees the Army's Artist-in-Residence, Sgt. Nola Brown, the lightning rod who attracts so much trouble. She'd not only saved Zig's daughter's life when they were Girl Scouts, but two years ago she'd shot her own foster father in the head to save Zig's life. "Nola didn't walk; she lurked," and her "sheer intensity...radiated off her, like plutonium." Zig and Nola discover something "fishy" about Mint's death. He'd been about to take secrets of criminal activity to his grave, and Zig and Nola might get killed trying to uncover them. The plot carries the story to a government facility called Grandma's Pantry, apparently a real place where the feds once stored supplies for the aftermath of nuclear war. The characters are mostly delightful, including Nola's cop brother, Roddy, who is trying not to be the monster he'd apparently been as a kid. "We each have a little monster inside us," as he was told. Not so delightful are the Reds, two redheaded killers who aren't above sawing tracheas. There's plenty of clever dialogue and details like the woman with the rhinestoned oxygen tank. A smart crime package, both funny and serious.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Wall Street Journal

    "Government secrets fuel Meltzer's exciting Lightning Rod...a rip-roaring, energetic thriller that begins on a high note and only accelerates....Meltzer... strikes gold again." — Sun Sentinel (Florida)

    "The Lightning Rod is my favorite Brad Meltzer novel—so far—and that's high, high praise. The book is a one-of-a-kind thrill ride with half a dozen memorable characters. My personal favorite is Zig, but Waggs, Roddy and Nola aren't far behind." — James Patterson

    "Enigmatic and mysterious, Nola is a force. Great plotting. Great characters. The Lightning Rod is Meltzer at his finest." — Karin Slaughter

    "[A] character-rich adventure... With entangled family tragedies that go back several years and childhood traumas that extend into the present, the plot of The Lightning Rod overflows—and thrills." — Wall Street Journal

    "Zig and Nola are back in this fast-moving thriller laced with blood and wit... The characters are delightful... There's plenty of clever dialogue and details... A smart crime package, both funny and serious." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    "Nola Brown is one of recent fiction's all-time great characters, and Meltzer's subtle pacing and narrative charm mean we can't take our eyes off her for a single moment—trust me, this is a terrific, compelling, unputdownable thriller." — Lee Child

    "Meltzer is back with another twisting, suspense-filled story, and so too is his prized protagonist, Nola, who remains as fascinating as ever...[Meltzer's plot] moves at breakneck speed...Bottom line: this is Meltzer's best work to date, and the sky is the limit for this series moving forward." — Real Book Spy

    "[An] exciting sequel. . . . Meltzer makes his leads emotionally plausible. One hopes Zig and Nola will be back soon." — Publishers Weekly

    "There are few authors who do dialogue that is as sharp and witty as Brad Meltzer does in The Lightning Rod... The characters, plot, pace, and premise work together like a well-rehearsed orchestra. Meltzer is a master storyteller and a superb wordsmith." — Nelson DeMille

    "No other A+ author whips up better dialogue... But it's his characters who most excite and engage. Nola and Zig will pull you into a story as entertaining as any by David Baldacci. And Nola is the most accomplished kicker of ass since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." — A. J. Finn

    "As close to perfect as a thriller can get. Nola and Zig make for an appealing, polished pairing, a key component in making The Lightning Rod terrific in all respects." — Providence Journal

    "Meltzer likes his conspiracy stories, and he puts a lot of work into them, but he seems to love his characters just as much. Zig and Nola are two of his strongest characters, and it feels like there are plenty more stories to be told about them." — Booklist

    "Meltzer is a master and this is his best. Not since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have you seen a character like this. Get ready to meet Nola. If you've never tried Meltzer, this is the one." — Harlan Coben on The Escape Artist

    "This novel is like a launched torpedo slashing through 400 pages of deep water before reaching impact. Enjoy one of the best thriller rides ever." — David Baldacci on The Escape Artist

    "The Escape Artist has a magic trick up its sleeve. Part Lisbeth Salander, part Homeland's Carrie Mathison. One of the...

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Escape Artist Series, Book 2
Brad Meltzer
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