“First Family” By David Baldacci Finely Plotted, Poorly Written
When out and about I like to stop in small local bookstores and make a purchase. Good for the authors and good for the small business owner. Such as the case when I was in Iron Wood, Michigan and stopped in at Book World. Not only was the store rather busy for a mid-afternoon week day, but the selection was vast and while not brimming with the classics had more than enough to make for an easy selection as a vacation read. I wanted something snappy and fast, and so after some looking picked up “First Family” by David Baldacci.
A fast-paced read with what can only be called a top-rated plot is the highlight of the book. A pair of detectives that were former Secret Service agents are hired by the First Lady to find her 12-year-old niece who was kidnapped following a birthday party at Camp David. The reason for the kidnapping is well hidden and bursts out in a rather unique (if implausible) fashion that very much held my attention.
But as I find with all these type of books that are mass-marketed the writing is just dreadful. Painful at points given the lack of style and polish. These are the types of books where plotting is the hardest part of writing, as the text itself was evidently done very fast. Too fast. I know that great writing is not the reason these books are published, as they are made for the ‘fast-read’ such as when on a vacation. And it works. I bought the book after all.
The other aspect that baffles me about these type of books that dwell on the White House, the Supreme Court, or the FBI is the need to throw out tidbits that are so insipid about the history and workings of government it makes me wonder if the authors think everyone lacks any common knowledge about such matters. There are plenty of people who never heard of POTUS or SCOTUS, but are they really the ones who are picking up these quick reads anyway? I much prefer an author who thinks his/her readers are educated enough to already have a pretty good idea of the general topics of the fictional book and do not require any needless background. While Baldacci did not do this as much as others, there was still enough such moments (history of Camp David) to wonder if those sentences were really necessary.
So, do I recommend this book? For a day on the beach or sitting on a porch swing, yes. For anything more than that when it comes to drama of the intense type…..stick with Robert Ludlum.