ConversesBook Discussion - First Family by David Baldacci

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gen. 14, 2017, 3:12 pm

Where are we up to in the series?
What do you hope for from the book?

Editat: gen. 14, 2017, 5:20 pm

Hope you all spotted my deliberate mistake I used 1G for two different questions! 😣

gen. 14, 2017, 5:23 pm

Split Second
Maxwell & King Book #1

Secret Service agent, Sean King had great career potential. But while guarding a presidential candidate on a campaign stop in a small town, his attention is diverted for one instant…and with good cause.

The candidate, Clyde Ritter, is shot and killed. Agent King in turn shoots the assassin. The killer dies…and so does King's career.

Eight years later Secret Service agent Michelle Maxwell is on a career fast track in a profession where only men succeed.

A former Olympic rower, Michelle Maxwell has her sights set on White House duty guarding the president and she just might make it.

She is guarding a presidential candidate, John Bruno, who is making an unscheduled stop at a funeral home to pay his respects to a deceased friend. The room is vacant except for the candidate, the corpse and the widow. Bruno insists on time alone, without security in spite of Maxwell’s advice and objections. Uncomfortable with the candidate's decision, Maxwell, and fellow agents stand outside the closed door, 99% sure their charge will be safe.

Wrong! He is kidnapped without them knowing until it’s too late. Michelle may still have a job, but her career is over. She is determined, however, to find John Bruno before he is killed - if indeed, he is still alive.

Former agent Sean King is now living in a house he designed and built on a quiet lakefront in Virginia. He went back to school for a law degree and shares a practice in town. Sean reads of agent Maxwell's fall from grace and feels great empathy because of his similar experience. His empathy chills considerably when Maxwell shows up at his door with some questions and a theory that the murder and the kidnapping, eight years apart, just may be related.

She provides some convincing arguments so he considers the ramifications of working with Michelle on the case. Soon he finds a dead body in his law office.

When an old flame and colleague that he hasn’t seen for eight years…Joan Dillenger… turns up, with an agenda of her own. She had been with him the day before the assassination and stayed with him that night in his hotel room leaving unanswered question about her involvement and what she may know.

Joan, Michelle and Sean combine their considerable resources to solve this mystery which just keeps getting more complicated - and interesting. But there is someone out there, in the background, with even more resources who is playing them all with extraordinary expertise.

This was read on Leafmarks so I have no stats for it available for it. I will say we must have found it tolerable since we are embarking on book #3.
The Hour Game
Maxwell & King Book #2

While out jogging Michelle Maxwell discovers a dead body. The woman's corpse had been posed and a Zodiac watch, which didn't belong to her, was affixed to her wrist. The time was set to one o'clock. The question was…was the killer trying to mimic the infamous Zodiac Killer?

Murders #2 and 3 are of a young couple parked and necking at a favorite make-out site. The weapon was a shotgun. A dog collar was left on the floorboard of their car. Is this a Son of Sam copycat?

Are the murders related and what is the message and motive? How are the corpses connected? These are the questions that confronted Sean and Michelle as well as us the readers.

The bizarre killings continue, each scene evoking aspects of former famous serial killers, and each death marked by a precise time.

Police Chief Todd Williams deputizes King and Maxwell. The PIs make little sense of it all. There are too many potential suspects and more and more confusing clues for us to work through. We all agreed that there was just so many clues that led us in circles but answered almost nothing.

Maxwell asks, "Why commit murders in similar styles to past killers as a copycat would and then write letters making it clear you're not them?" Good question Michelle 

During this turmoil, attorney Harry Lee Carrick hires the two detectives to investigate a burglary, allegedly committed by his client, handyman Junior Deavor. The robbery took place on the estate of the town's wealthiest and most formidable family, the Battle clan - Southern gothic at its best. Is the entire family, and their history going back to the civil War, introduced to prop up the plot or to confuse the reader? We found them a strange and unbelievable or trustworthy family.

Then the puzzles begin. Again, who is/are the killer(s)? Who stole what from whom? Motive(s)? How to keep all the characters straight? Who gets killed next? Will Michelle and Sean ever get together?

From the new and improved Book Discussion Stats thread:

Date Read: July 27 –August 1, 2016
Participants: (8) - Andrew, Sergei, Carol, Eadie, Lynda, Jen, Bluebird, Brenda
Ratings: Brenda 3.75; Sergei 3.5; Eadie 4; Andrew 4; Bluebird 4; Lynda - 4.5 Jen, 4 Carol 5
Overall Avenge Rating: 4.09


"It was good, but not great."

"Just because I correctly guessed who-dunnit, otherwise it would have been an average 3. Feeling generous because I got it right!"

"I'll stick with my 4 because I did enjoy the book and the discussions but the book was a little too long."

"Even though it was too long and the ending a bit disappointing, it held my interest throughout and I always looked forward to reading the next section."
Simple Genius
Maxwell & King series Book #3

Mentally stressed beyond her ability to continue a normal life, Michelle Maxwell simply breaks down.

Her horrifying experience in the last book, Hour Game…combined with the continuing anguish of a deeply buried secret we will later learn she has carried with her since she was only six years old drives her into a potentially suicidal bar brawl with a complete stranger.

Her best friend and investigative partner, Sean King, convinces her to check herself into a psychiatric hospital for rest, recuperation and serious examination of the demons she is encountering. We are now introduced to Horatio, another of Sean’s friends and a practicing psychiatrist.

Michelle’s stay at the clinic produces an ongoing crime that she investigates and quickly sorts out while ridding the world of one more creep.

Assuming full responsibility for the financial costs of this care, he desperately searches for work and accepts a contract to investigate the suicide…or possible murder of Monk Turing, a quantum physicist and computer scientist working for Babbage Town, a high powered corporate think tank located across the York River from Camp Peary, a top secret CIA training facility in Virginia filed with smart people that are simply smarter than most anyone you will ever meet. On a side note…Alan Turiing was a real person…an actual genius that broke the Enigma code and helped the allies win WWII.

King gets assistance of the local sheriff and a lot of attitude from the FBI and eventually Michelle shows up to help out…but rather she was going to be a help or a dangerous hindrance…no one was sure.

The folks at camp CIA really do not want to participate. Tunings daughter…Viggie… an 11 year old genius in her own right…may hold keys to the entire thing but she doesn’t communicate the way most people do. She does it through music.

One of the problems with this book was that you had trouble keeping these folks straight. There are several different story lines that weave themselves throughout this novel. The basics of public and private encryption keys and the related use of enormous numbers and their correspondingly huge prime factors; rogue CIA agents; the history of German POWs during WW II in New England…a treasure hunt from Colonial England…and America's first days as an independent nation; the moral issues of civil rights as they apply to prisoners in the current wars on terror and drugs; hypnosis and the difficulties of diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses; and much more.

There are parts of the story that will make the average readers head spin and come very close to imploding as we were lead through the workings of a super computer with ability to take over governments and run the entire world.

Like some of his high-powered peers in the thriller writing business…Baldacci's side bars on science, history, geography and politics are diverting, informative, interesting and entertaining but we as a group found most of it unnecessary to the story.
As a group…we thought that the book was a little slow and not as good as the first and second one. It could have been because of all the computer stuff that none of us really understood nor were we interested in. In spite of that it received fairly good ratings and remarks.

From the Book Discussion stats:

Dates Read: October 7 - October 12, 2016

Participants: (9) Andrew - Carol - Bluebird - Lynda - Brenda- Eadie - Sergei - Sushi - Bluebird
Ratings: Carol- 4; Andrew-3.5; Bluebird - 3; Lynda -4; Brenda - 3.75; Eadie - 4; Sergei -3.5; Sushi - 3
Overall Average Rating: 3.20


" It wasn't a bad book: it just wasn't a good book either."

"I like the series but think this is the weakest of the three we've read."

"It was a creative plot."

"It was a readable story, and moved along quite well. Plenty of well-rounded characters”

Editat: gen. 14, 2017, 6:24 pm

Thanks Carol, a great job as always. 😊

I gave Split Second, the first book in the series, 4 Stars.

Editat: gen. 14, 2017, 5:59 pm

Yeah, great job, Carol, :)

I, too, gave 'Split Second' 4 stars; we read it in October 2015.

gen. 14, 2017, 8:02 pm

Another stellar job Carol. I gave Split Second a 4.5.

gen. 14, 2017, 9:59 pm

Thanks Carol! I depend upon your wonderful synopses: my memory isn't what it used to be.....

I gave Split Second 4 stars.

gen. 15, 2017, 9:51 am

Thank you everyone. >7 bluebird_: Believe me Bluebird...if it wasn't written down and saved in word I wouldn't remember either:)

gen. 15, 2017, 10:32 am

Great recap Carol as always. I gave Split Second a 4.

gen. 15, 2017, 11:45 am

>7 bluebird_: >8 Carol420: It is amazing how much you can forget from one book to the next! We just read too many books! I'm still struggling to remember exactly what Michelle revealed in the last book!

gen. 15, 2017, 1:55 pm

>10 Andrew-theQM: I cheated and went back to read that last section.

gen. 15, 2017, 2:11 pm

>11 sushicat: That's a good idea!

gen. 16, 2017, 12:06 am

>10 Andrew-theQM: Glad I'm not the only one. Thank goodness someone mentioned it in one of the answers in section 2. I don't have the book any longer, so couldn't go back to figure it out.

Argh!!! Librarything is so very slow tonight. And, I couldn't get on for awhile. An unpleasant reminder of the last months of Shelfari. Hope this is just a glitch!

gen. 20, 2017, 12:04 am

Same issue as the previous long discussions....6N is missing if listed in alphanumeric order. Need to reorder by date to get to the post

gen. 20, 2017, 3:55 am

>14 bhabeck: Yes, have to answer the first page of questions under 'Topics', then click on 'Last message' to get the last few to show up in entirety. A glitch that Librarything never did manage to address...