A few weeks before President-Elect Edward Carson is to be inaugurated, his daughter Alli goes missing. Neither prone to rebellion nor suffering from depression, it is assumed that she has been kidnapped. But that assumption becomes more puzzling as time passes with no contact specifying ransom or other demands.
With Alli's life at stake, Carson turns to the only man he believes can bring her safely home, ATF agent Jack McClure. Dyslexic, words stymie Jack, but he can work out solutions to problems at a speed near that of light. McClure is apparently in good company with the likes of Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci, to name a few fellow sufferers.
Jack has some allies in the government, not the least of whom is Carson, but there are some men with overinflated egos in positions of power who hate Jack's guts. Unless Jack can maneuver around the resistance and attacks from that faction, rescuing Alli may become impossible. Fortunately, he has Nina to help him. An agent with ambition to match her beauty, Nina will do anything --- literally --- to further her career, and if it means getting close to McClure, so be it. She, too, has friends in high places. Not the same high places as Jack's, but they may prove to be helpful nonetheless.
Despite the myriad barriers and roadblocks, Jack manages to narrow down the list of suspects to one Ronnie Kray --- at least, that's what he's calling himself these days. While not dyslexic, Kray is outstanding in his own way. Driven by a sickness, unafraid of death and lacking the fear of God, he is an explosive cocktail of emotions and motivations. And his timing is perfect. The handover of the reins to the incoming administration leaves the government vulnerable and at its weakest.
Further complicating Jack's efforts is the outgoing president's religious zealotry. The man's narrow vision of God and God's plan for mankind leads the president to make some very bad decisions in the name of righteousness and pushes the investigation in the wrong direction. Fortunately, Jack sees the case differently.
As Jack chases clues only he seems to realize the significance of, a deep dawning horror overcomes him. He has a growing fear that he knows this kidnapper from long ago --- only he didn't just abduct his victims back then; he killed them.
To understand how Jack got where he is today, it is necessary to visit him as a youngster. He grew up in the same neighborhoods he now fights crime in. From an early age, he learned how to make his disability an asset. His education came from a streetwise mountain of a man who stuck to his beliefs despite the personal danger it placed him in. Now, Jack must use every strength and advantage that his mentor taught him in order to save Alli.
FIRST DAUGHTER is a lightning fast read with a terrifying plot. There’s a new twist just about every other page. Don’t make the mistake of believing you know how it’s going to end. Lustbader will surprise you. He has an uncanny knack for formulating ideas with a razor’s edge. A story this timely will leave you wondering: Could this really happen?
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011