Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

Author: Eric Van Lustbader
Published:  2008 (Forge Books)
Length: 454 pages
Source: Free review copy
Personal Enjoyment Factor:  3.5/5

He wants to read, he wants to show his father that he can, but his emotions are in turmoil.  He's filled with fear and anxiety, which automatically extinguish what progress he's made in decoding English.  He stares down at the comic panels.  The speech balloons might as well be written in Mandarin.  The letters float off like spiky sea creatures with a will of their own.  He sees them, but he cannot make heads or tails of what they might be.  It's garbage in, garbage out.  Jack McClure at age 15.  (pg. 106)

When I go to my favorite sub shop, I order the same sandwich so often (ATC on sliced squaw, hold the mayo) that I'm very close to saying "I'll have the usual" and those lovely people on the other side of the counter will know exactly what I'm talking about.  But every so often, I like to walk on the wild side, and watch their jaws drop as I order roast beef on sourdough, or a toasted Santa Fe sub.  Life is short.  Diversify those sammies!

My reading habits seem to follow the same patterns.  I have my favorite genres, but I occasionally like to shake things up a bit and read something different.  Like this first installment of Van Lustbader's Jack McClure/Alli Carson set of political thrillers.   It's a departure from the norm, but it screamed "summer" to me and so I took the plunge.

ATF agent Jack McClure has been called in to investigate the kidnapping of the President Elect's daughter Alli, a close friend of Jack's own daughter who was killed in a tragic car accident.  As Jack continues to mourn for his daughter and his broken marriage, he throws himself into the case, where his past meets up with the perilous events of the present.  The dyslexia that was a source of misery during adolescence turns out to be an asset helping him to see the world differently, and ultimately to thwart the plans of a criminal mastermind. 

It's an engaging story, never boring, but it also weaves in ideas about religious extremism on both ends of the spectrum, grief over the loss of a loved one, and the individual feeling of being an outsider, and coming to terms with it.  That's a lot packed into one book, and at times it seems a little depressing.  But that's okay, because not all books can be "feel-good" reads, nor should they be.  First Daughter keeps you pondering while your heart is pounding.

As a side note, I cannot remember the last time I read a new, shiny paperback book!  This tangible aspect of reading the book somehow went hand in hand with the whole "summer" reading vibe.  The next book in the series (which can all be read as stand-alone books, apparently), is just recently out in paperback.  Here's the book trailer for Last Snow.  I love the Moscow setting:

How about you?  Have you read anything lately to shake things up a bit? I'd love some suggestions for the next time I veer off my yellow brick road.


  1. Way to go, walking off the beaten path! I like to part from my norm from time to time. There was a time I LOVED political thrillers but then I took a break and apparently I'm still breaking. ;)

  2. Oooh, sounds good. It is always fun to break out of your routine -- and summer is the perfect time for it. Nice review!

  3. It's always good to break out of routine, and this book does sound like a nice summer read.

  4. I love thrillers, but can't stand the ones that have detailed violence. Dennis Lehane was recommended to me for page-turning thrillers without the gore. Loved Moonlight Mile. You might give him a try next time you're in a thriller mood.