First Family

July 28, 2009

Title: First Family
Author: David Baldacci
Reader: Ron McLarty
Audiobook 2009
Unabridged
Length: 14 hours

4 Stars

Buy or rent for less at The Audio Book Store

The kidnapping of the niece of the president turns into a horrific murder and much more in David Baldacc’s political thriller First Family. The First Lady calls on the services of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, ex-secret service agents, to help locate Willa her brother’s daughter. King has crossed paths with the president and his wife when he helped the then senator avoid a nasty sex scandal. Now King and Maxwell must figure out exactly why Willa was the target, what the kidnappers really want, and how to save the child from what seems to be a ruthless adversary.

Baldacci provides lots intricate detail as the plot unfolds. As he does in the Camel Club series, he deliberately keeps the reader in the dark, only giving us some of the necessary information. You can spend time guessing what is going on while he seems to meander through the background of various characters. In this case we get an awful lot about Sam Quarry and his life in Alabama. Yes most of it will connect, but we do get what I think is a bit too much atmosphere.

I do have a problem with this book; the author succumbs to what has become a common occurrence in these sorts of thrillers in recent years: too much story. Some of you might think that like the saying you can never be too rich or too thin, that there can never be too much plot. However, the “B” plot involving Maxwell’s mother’s death seems to be tacked on just to pad out an already lengthy story.

It’s hard to complain about getting more than your money’s worth, but it might be better to keep to a single plot to keep us more entranced.

The main story has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, even if you can, as I did, guess some of the key points. I enjoyed the book right up to the end, but alas was a bit disappointed about the ultimate outcome. It was a bit passive for me, with an epilog type of explanation of the results for all involved.

Ron McLarty reads with real style. He can voice both the male and female characters well. I think it’s difficult to do justice to a child character – the tendency is to make the voice a bit too cute. McLarty avoids that problem with his narration.

One last comment, in several places in the audio book we get sound effects. Not music, but bullets being fired, explosions, etc. Why do we need that? Baldacci continues to be in good form for this genre. This is great summer reading or listening.

Reviewed on 7/25/09 by Robert W. Karp

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