David Baldacci

First Family

"The prose is taut without being tense, yet rarely is a word wasted."


A family birthday party at the presidential retreat, Camp David, turns into a nightmare as the president's pre-teen niece, Willa, is kidnapped hours after the party finishes. The first lady, Jane Cox, enlists private detectives Sean King and Michelle Maxwell to help find the missing girl.

The investigation is hampered by false leads, family secrets and turf wars between competing agencies including the FBI and the Secret Service. Being former members of the Secret Service, King and Maxwell are well acquainted with the kind of battle required to access information held by other agencies.

When Willa's kidnapper finally makes contact with the first lady, havoc ensues and it becomes clear to both King and Maxwell that there are some dark secrets which they will have to uncover before they can mount any serious investigation into the girls whereabouts.

Purchase the book from Amazon.


Once again Baldacci sets a turbulent pace throughout his novel as he intersperses action sequences, moralistic values, family tragedies and an intricate plot. The prose is taut without being tense, yet rarely is a word wasted. Do not pick this book up in the adverts on TV, as you will surely miss the end of the show. The fourth book to feature Sean King and Michelle Maxwell is of the same high calibre as the previous novels and continues to explore their relationship with each other as they examine the evidence and mistruths that are given to them. A family tragedy threatens Maxwell's sanity but with King's help she gets through the turmoil and escorts him on the quest to find young Willa. One of the highlights of the book has to be the way the “villain” of the piece, Sam Quarry, is humanised by his deeply held beliefs and convictions. He is a man who, having lost his moral rudder, retains enough decency to make you want him to succeed to a certain degree. Other peripheral characters are drawn with the author's usual panache whilst never detracting from the lead roles. The key element of this novel is the way that, whilst you may believe that Quarry's actions are deplorable, you can fully understand why he travels down that road. I, for one, had so much empathy for him that I could see myself taking a similar course in his circumstances. King and Maxwell wrestle with this same moral issue and have to find a solution that they can live with.

Reviewed By: