Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Julie's Review: First Family

Summary: Plenty of intense action drives bestseller Baldacci's stellar fourth novel to feature former Secret Service agents Michelle Maxwell and Sean King (after Simple Genius). Maxwell and King, D.C. PIs, step on the toes of everyone, including the FBI and the Secret Service. They even manage to bruise the ego of First Lady Jane Cox, who hires them after her 12-year-old niece is kidnapped following a birthday party at Camp David. Baldacci excels at making the improbable believable as one obsessed man, 62-year-old Sam Quarry, takes on the best security the U.S. can muster from his Alabama redoubt. Even more impressive than Quarry's determined campaign is the ingeniousness with which Baldacci manages to disguise both Quarry's precise motivation and aims. Meanwhile, Maxwell has to deal with her mother's death and a host of other personal issues. Baldacci's careful plotting and confidant depictions of national security procedures make this a thinking man's thriller.

Review: I don't think I've ever read a bad David Baldacci book, seriously. As usual, I am behind on his books seeing that my dad gave me this book last summer but First Family is probably one of his best. The book stars Sean King and Michelle Maxwell again. Two former Secret Service agents who are now Private Investigators. At first, Jane Cox the current First Lady, seems on the up and up but as the novel goes on her motives are called into question; not only by the reader but by Sean King, the very man she hired to help find her niece. You pretty much know close to the beginning of the story that she's hiding something, you just aren't sure what. .

We are introduced to Sam Quarry, an aging man who is looking to exact revenge on the First Family but in true Baldacci style, we don't know why..yet. Baldacci is always excellent at the slow reveal and letting you think of several different scenarios and wondering if you have even come close. It's always fun guessing even if you are wrong, which I was this time. He is the character that is supposed to be the villain but he's the one that I ended up wanting to know the most about and hoping that things would work out for him. I also felt horrible for Willa. Here is a girl who is entering the hardest time of her life and she gets kidnapped, held for reasons unknown to her and will soon find out her mom is dead. Through it all she seems like she keeps her wits and her courage.

There is a subplot to the novel as well. This concerned the death of Michelle's mother Sally. Turns out she didn't die of natural causes but rather a severe blow to the head. This is a nice seg-way into figuring out a bit of Michelle's past and the demons that have come to haunt her. I thought it was a nice diversion that was wrapped up quickly to return to the main plot of the kidnapping.

The novel never lets up on the wit, action and drama. There are a few twists that truly keep you guessing up until the end and wondering who will come out on top. The ending is superb and satisfying all around.

First Family isn't an overly political book other than using the Presidential seal on the cover and creating a fictional first family. In fact, President Dan Cox could be anyone with enough charm and zeal to carry himself all the way to the top. The more interesting of the two characters in the White House is without a doubt Jane Cox.

I'm hoping that we'll see Sean and Michelle back very soon. I'd like to see what they are up to and what kind of case they get next.

If you like your thrillers where the author keeps you guessing and you keep trying to figure it out; then First Family is for you.

Final Take: 4.75/5



Jenn July 22, 2010 at 12:01 AM  

Why haven't I read Baldacci before?!? *sigh* More books on the TBR pile. So many books so little time. :-/

Julie July 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

I know...why haven't you? :P Get them from the library. I'd send them to you but I think you still have some of mine. LOL Plus they are mainly my dad's.

I recommend the Camel Club series first. :)

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