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Book Review: First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

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Eric Van Lustbader's newly released novel, First Daughter, is a crime suspense mystery that confronts the role of religion in politics. It takes place just before the inauguration of the newly elected President, Edward Carson, whose daughter, Alli, has just been kidnapped from her college campus (though this fact is kept carefully hidden from the public). The President-Elect calls in his long-time friend, Jack McClure, to find his daughter. Jack carries with him his own bag of setbacks — growing up on the wrong side of the tracks with a dark past, struggling with dyslexia, having lost his own daughter, Emma, in a tragic accident, and then his marriage ending in divorce after the death of his daughter.

All of these events, however, culminate in Jack being ideally suited to solve the this mystery and find Alli, his own daughter's former college roommate, while there is still time. Jack McClure is able to see things that other people miss and sometimes things that others simply cannot accept as reality, as his past is illuminated through his search for the soon-to-be First Daughter.

After the death of Robert Ludlum, Lustbader took on the role of continuing the Bourne series of spy suspense novels with The Bourne Legacy, The Bourne Betrayal, and The Bourne Sanction. Some of Lustbader's other books include Ninja series and The Pearl series of fantasy novels.

The almost subversive yet fresh view of faith, religion, and politics found in First Daughter certainly makes one think, but it is still merely the backdrop for this edge-of-your-seat crime thriller. My only complaint was that though the plot was well developed and had its fair share of twists and turns, I felt that the characterization deserved a bit more attention, though admittedly, this is not an atypical sentiment of mine for the mystery suspense genre. I would have liked to gain more understanding about why McClure was so beloved amongst his friends and peers, when he seemed rather cold and calculating to me throughout most of the book. That being said, however, his meticulously observant nature made him an excellent main character for a detective, and I whole-heartedly accepted that he was able to solve puzzling crimes in record time when others were lacking.

Lustbader's writing took me to the edge of my seat from the first chapter, and held me there straight through to the end.

Missionary zeal precluded any deviation whatsoever from his chosen path. So he stood behind the curtain, watching the world at its lowest, meanest ebb, and took heart, for only at the darkest depths, only when all hope is lost, does the catalyst for change raise a spark that turns into the flare of a thousand suns.

The moment was at hand; he knew it as surely as his heart beat or his lungs took in air.

Overall, I would recommend this book, particularly if you are looking to read a new book within the mystery suspense or crime fiction genre.

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