If you like the TV series 24, then First Daughter should appeal to you. Jack McClure has quite a bit in common with Jack Bauer. Both are government agents, both neglect a wife and daughter and lose them – one to death and one to estrangement, and both follow their own logic to track down the bad guys. But since the format of this novel is less restrictive than 24 – the action takes place over a whole month instead of one day and there are flashbacks to Jack’s past – we get a deeper sense of what makes Jack McClure tick.
I did enjoy this novel for the most part. The first scene of the book takes place on inauguration day and has serious hooks. (I defy you to put the book down after reading it.) Then we rewind a month to follow the events that led up to this mind-blowing scenario.
The framework of the plot concerns two opposing sides. One is led by a delusional lame duck president who believes he has a direct mandate from God and will do anything to remain in power behind the scenes even after the new president has been sworn in. The other is a shadowy extremist faction of the missionary separatist movement who believes in total separation of church and state and use violence to further their aims. The idea is interesting, but the execution left me confused, wondering exactly what message Author Lustbader was going for. Also, the over abundance of soapy soapbox speeches from both sides tend to slow the pace, not something you strive for in a thriller.
Getting to know Jack’s past and learning how he transformed his dyslexia from a disability to his greatest strength were much more satisfying elements of the story. Also great: The villain was suitably evil, the twists and turns in the search for Alli abundant. And I never saw that end coming.
First Daughter is available in hardcover now.