First Family (King & Maxwell Series)

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In adroitly written novels such as Absolute Power and Saving Faith, David Baldacci has long established himself as one of the most accomplished and imaginative crime writers at work today – and it’s a particularly fecund field at present. With his latest novel, First Family, he adds even more lustre to his reputation -- and tackles surprising new areas of characterisation and plot. The setting is the haunts of the powerful: the upper echelons of the political class.

A birthday party at the presidential retreat Camp David takes a nasty turn when a child is abducted after the party has finished. The First Lady needs the very best to help in this dangerous situation – and who better than top operatives Sean King and Michelle Maxwell to track down the child? (Baldacci enthusiasts will know his reliable protagonists from earlier novels). However, the First Lady and Sean King have had dealings before: he was instrumental in saving her husband (then a senator) from a very unhappy situation… and perhaps their involvement was more than political. Michelle Maxwell, as we know from earlier books by this author, is a woman with her own major problems, and everyone involved in the events of First Family will emerge chastened and changed from an incendiary situation.

As in his earlier books, David Baldacci is notably sharp at the cross-currents of tension within a family (while never forgetting pressing external threats). In the new book, he has the reader caught up in a spectacular and disturbing narrative, with the involvement of the most important family in America adding piquancy to an already gripping piece of writing. --Barry Forshaw