First Family
David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing 2009
464 pages Hardcover

First Family by David Baldacci is a page turner. The last few mystery novels I had come across had been less than interesting and put me off my normal reading pace. This latest (2009) Sean King / Michelle Maxwell thriller brought back the joy of sitting back in a comfy chair and getting lost in a solid, well-written, quick-paced, captivating mystery. I find Baldacci uneven but First Family is certainly not that.

This mystery thriller is about the kidnapping of the First Lady’s niece and the investigation by King and Maxwell. Dramatic events also happen in Maxwell’s family. Saying more than that would probably spoil some of the fun but if you misread the title a bit….

One of the many things that make this mystery novel such a good read is the bad guy. He is not what has become the standard extremely intelligent psychopath or just psychopath. Baldacci’s villain here is in fact a rather likeable guy. He is also a more rounded character than most thriller baddies.

Something else that is a plus in this Baldacci thriller is unlike in previous novels where you had the feeling you had to know King and Maxwell’s pasts to get some of the story, First Family can easily be read independently from the rest of the series. This makes it a good “in” for those unfamiliar with this author.

There are a couple of lesser though central to the story characters that are a bit on the unbelievable side but not enough to make you question this mystery.

First Family by David Baldacci moves this novelist a few pegs up on my list of writers whose next book I really want to read. Not that anyone could dislodge Michael Connelly or Deon Meyer from the top of that list.