I went into this book with pretty low expectations, but I was in luck. In spite of its size (nearly 500 pages), this book is pretty readable and gripping.
The story starts off with the kidnapping of the US President’s niece. To add to the FBI efforts, the First Lady requests former Secret Service officer Sean King and his business partner Michelle Maxwell to investigate the kidnapping. There are tons of red herrings galore, and everybody has a motive in the kidnapping.
To add to their woes, Michelle’s mother dies unexpectedly under suspicious circumstances, and she is unable to stop suspecting her father of her murder.
The story is also partly told from the viewpoint of the main villain – Sam Quarry, and this is what makes this book a notch better than some other random thrillers. Sam Quarry has a deep personal grudge against the first family, which prompts him to come up with this bizarre kidnapping plot. Although in some ways, the suspense about the kidnapper is killed in the beginning of the book itself, Baldacci does a skillful job keeping Sam’s motives and his final intentions hidden till the end.
I can’t say very much more about this book without revealing plot details, but as a thriller it worked pretty well for me. I even enjoyed the side-plot of Michelle’s mother’s murder without getting impatient (although it could have easily been edited out without affecting the main plot one whit).
Btw, this is a series of books. Here is a list of the complete series in the order of publishing:
- Split Second
- Hour Game
- Simple Genius
- First Family
- The Sixth Man
I have read Split Second and Hour Game in my pre-blogging days and didn’t find them particularly memorable. But First Family is pretty good, and works well even as a standalone novel. You don’t actually have to read the entire series to understand this one.