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First Family (King & Maxwell) Hardcover – April 21, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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. (Apr. 21)
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"Ron McLarty is the perfect choice to present Baldacci's latest thriller. His clear, strong voice shifts effortlessly among the story's varying passages of sadness, anger, and irony. His facility with multiple characters of both genders and many ages, races, and regional accents enables the listener easily to keep track of everyone. Music and sound effects, used liberally in the opening sequences, trail off as the story progresses, becoming less frequent and lower in volume with each chapter. Too bad-their use enhances the story." (AudioFile ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Eventually their sheltering Tyler and their wanting to understand more about some mysterious events unfolding led them them in several different directions. The plot kept going and going: in the first third of the book it seemed as if nothing was really going to happen. Plus at times too much explanation was given about what they were doing. Then it suddenly picked up. I'm so glad I continued the book. Of course some bad guys were involved; we're kept in the dark for quite awhile about how exactly are the "bad guys".
For all its action and adventure elements, the story unwinds slowly, giving us plenty of "what the heck" issues followed by small glimpses of the truth. The convenient mechanism is a team of private detectives, both former Secret Service agents, who are called in to assist when the First Lady's favorite niece is kidnapped. Why was she (and not any of the rest of her family) kidnapped? Why was her mother, the First Lady's sister-in-law, killed and her father, the First Lady's brother, knocked out, during the kidnapping? Who did the kidnapping? What was their motivation? Can she be rescued alive? Will the FBI and the Secret Service and all the other feds crawling all over the case only make matters worse?
We get a bit of this at a time, including getting to know the kidnapper early on, and a little bit about his motivation. We find that he is not, apparently, a cruel person, but that something compels him to this. What? That takes a long time to bring out.
What is the meaning of the letters written on the arm of the girl's dead mother? What do the various characters know that they will not reveal? Why will they keep important information secret when it could easily cost the life of a pretty, smart, lovable little girl?
Certainly any mystery has plenty of questions, but few authors other than Baldacci could wrap them up so well. In the process, we get a close look at the Secret Service, the impenetrable fish bowl that surrounds the First Family, and how it affects those who are close to them but outside the bubble.