zig_n_nola_bk_tea zig_n_nola_bk_tlr
Full Name: Jim Zigarowski and Nola Brown
Nationality: American
Occupation Other - Mortician

Creator: Brad Meltzer
Time Span: 2018 - 2020


Jim 'Zig' Zigarowski is a mortician.

Nola Brown is a sergeant in the U.S. Army.

Neither of these two are spies in any capacity and neither has any inclination to be so. In the two adventures (so far) which exist about them, neither of them seek that kind of work. Unfortunately for their safety, a good number of people they will come across are so employed and those people do not like outsiders learning about their activities.

Zig and Nola are not friends or colleagues. They are not related to each other. Their paths would not have merged in the least except for a brief moment a decade before the events of these adventures. In that short instance, a young Nola was a Girl Scout attending a camping expedition that Zig was also attending as a chaperone for his own daughter, Maggie. In a bizarre campfire explositon, Nola would save Maggie's life, losing the tip of her ear in the process. After that night, Zig and Nola would not see each other again until the circumstances of the first adventure.

Nola, 26 when the tales begin, is the Army's Artist-in-Residence. "It's one of the Army's most prestigious honors; dates back to World War I and runs through every battle since - Normandy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, you name it. Anywhere we've stormed the beaches, we've had a painter there". Photographers, we learn, can document these events. Artists can capture them.

Zig is 52. "For well over a decade, Zig had spent his days working in this high-tech surgical room, which served as a mortuary for the US government's most top secret and high-profile cases. On 9/11, the victims of the Pentagon attack were brought here. So were the victims of the attack on the USS Cole, the astronauts from the space shuttle Columbia, and the remains of well over fifty thousand soldiers and CIA operatives who fought in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and every secret location in between. Here, in Delaware of all places, at Dover Air Force Base, was America's most important funeral home". It is Zig's job to help reconstruct the bodies of the fallen so they can be properly honored by family members before final burial.

It is when the body of a young woman named Nola Brown is sent to Zig to prepare that their adventures begin. Zig remembers the young girl who saved his daughter and insists on being the one to process her remains. It is when he notices that the ear which had been damaged in the incident years before is intact that Zig becomes part of a fascinating mystery. Who was the dead girl? Where is the real Nola? Why are people trying so hard to close down any investigation, pressure coming from as high as the White House?

Zig and Nola are not trained operatives. They are just being hunted by them.


Number of Books:2
First Appearance:2018
Last Appearance:2020

1 The Escape Artist The Escape Artist
Written by Brad Meltzer
Copyright: 2018

Nola Brows was supposed to be dead. The US military said so. Her CO verified it. But Zig Zigarowski, working at the Dover AFB mortuary and responsible for preparing the remains for burial, learns that the woman was not dead but on the run. On her last assignment for the Army, she saw something she should not have and some powerful people want her dead for real.
"Together, Nola and Zig will either reveal a sleight of hand being played at the highest levels of power or die trying to uncover the US Army's most mysterious secret-a centuries-old conspiracy that traces back through history to the greatest escape artist of all: Harry Houdini."
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2 The Lightning Rod The Lightning Rod
Written by Brad Meltzer
Copyright: 2020

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.
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I really pondered this series for quite a while. It was not really a spy series - it was more a highly suspenseful couple of terrific mysteries. And yet they were being listed the booksellers as belonging in the espionage genre. I went back and forth on including them in this compendium.

I opted eventually for 'yes' (obviously!) because these are such terrific adventures written by a true master of the storytelling art, Brad Meltzer. I have enjoyed his work for years and had already had the pleasure of adding another series of his several years before. The more the merrier!

These are really, really good yarns that I devoured.


My Grade: A-


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