David Baldacci, First Family Reviews

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“First Family, by David Baldacci. ”


written by degbert on 08/04/2010

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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“First Family ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 10/04/2009

First Family
David Baldacci
Grand Central, Apr 21 2009, $27.99
ISBN: 9780446539753

In DC First Lady Jane Cox hires former secret service agents turned private investigators Michelle Maxwell and Sean King to rescue her abducted twelve year old year niece Willa, who daringly was kidnapped following a birthday party at Camp David; her mom, sister-in-law to President Cox was killed in the assault. Jane chose the pair because she knows they get results as King saved her husband's life when he was a senator.

The evidence makes no sense to the sleuths as it points to a lone cowboy, an Alabama sexagenarian. They cannot see how Sam Quarry swiped a First relative from under the noses of the Secret Service. Everything they learn about him points to his being so obsessed, Sean and Michele believe he is willing to die; but they remain ignorant why he is so fixated on the First extended family. Meanwhile, Michele still shaky from the near death experience in SIMPLE GENIUS, is reeling with the death of her mom and so Sean fears she will be no use when he makes his concerted effort to save the First tweener.

Though the plot seems unlikely, David Baldacci makes it feel plausible as he hooks the audience from the onset and never loosens his grip until the climax. The story line is fast-paced form the moment the attack occurs and never takes a breath even when the focus is on Michele's personal issues and doubts. Thriller fans will fully relish FIRST FAMILY as the action keeps on coming and the tension growing.

Harriet Klausner

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