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★★★☆☆

“First Family, by David Baldacci. ”

Written on: 08/04/2010 by degbert (120 reviews written)

First Family, by David Baldacci.



Baldacci is, as you may know, famous for his thrillers. Given the almost exclusively US-based settings, characters and bias, I would imagine the heartland of his readership to be in the US. But the stuff translates well enough, and who of us in the UK are totally unaware of the US culture that we do our best to emulate at every turn? Unsurprisingly, Baldacci's popularity is equally strong in the UK.



Typical of the genre, his style is rapid, instant, his dialogue terse, his characterizations simple (though not simplistic) but effective to be believeable. And as other pratagonists of the thriller novel, he creates a series or serial of stories revolving around one or two central characters. His two, King and Maxwell are ex-secret service, brooding, moody but ultimately on the side of all that is just and good. They appear once again in First Family.



The story is set around a would be revenge attack on the president's family, a case which King more or less stumbles across. His history with the first lady pulls him and Maxwell in deeper to the intrigue. Baldacci predictably toys with the reader by introducing new details and hidden threads with every passing chapter as the story unfolds at pretty break-neck speed. I will spare you the specifics, as these are central to the plot and you won't buy the book, but while the whole thing seems a little unlikely to say the least, once you are immersed in the saga itself, it is a gratifying and pretty compulsive read. That's not to say its going to challenge your intellect or ask questions about today's society or even the nature of truth, Baldacci will leave the ponderous, darker elements of intrigue to the likes of Le Carre. This is pretty straight up and down generic thiller stuff, and pretty good stock.



I've read some Baldacci work that is nowhere near as precise, or formulaic, as this. for example The Winner was a brilliantly-conceived and well-delivered tale, full of rich characterization and plausibility; more recently the Camel Club was also a much more thoughtful perspective on the thriller concept which I really liked. Baldacci has talent for sure. First Family isn't anything particularly new from Baldacci, but its certainly not bad, and I happily skipped through the 600 odd pages enjoying it all the way.

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