Father Night: A McClure/Carson Novel by Eric Van Lustbader

Father Night Reviewed by Jim Kalla

Father Night is book number four in Eric Van Lustbader’s series of books featuring Jason McClure and Alli Carson. Jason McClure is a federal agent working exclusively for the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier in his career he worked as a Secret Service agent assigned to guard the president and his family. In this role as a Secret Service agent he became closely acquainted with Alli Carson, the daughter of the president, as her confidant and protector.

It would be difficult for the casual reader who chooses to read only this book to understand the history of both Jack McClure and Alli Carson. This history is very important because much of the plot line in this book is connected to the previous books in this series. This history includes Alli Carson’s kidnapping and torture in the first book in the series, First Daughter, and the fact that her father, Edward Carson, the president died on Jack McClure’s “watch”. It was McClure’s unique skills in unraveling complex scenarios that saved Alli and established him as her protector.

The plot line in this book is really composed of multiple plots ongoing at the same time. The major plot involves the investigation of a secret US government organization whose goal is to influence the power struggles in the Middle East by eliminating the leadership in Iran and replacing it with a “puppet regime” that they could control. This is the investigation that Jack McClure is assigned.

Alli, now in her early twenties, is enrolled at Fearington, a training center for federal agents. While at Fearington, images of nude girls with Alli’s head or face photoshopped on them appear on a rogue web-site in situations that mirror Alli’s earlier kidnapping and torture. The resolve of this situation is a sub-plot throughout Father Night involving Alli, her roommate, Vera, and Caroline Carson, Alli’s mysterious cousin.

In the earlier books in this series, Jack McClure, who has learned how to overcome dyslexia, is depicted as a harsh, bitter agent with an anti-social attitude. Some of this was the result of the loss of his daughter, Emma, in a car accident and his subsequent divorce from her mother. In Father Night, he is depicted as a softer, changed man who wants to be connected to others. He tries to reconnect with Anna Dementievka, a former love and Russian operative but this too becomes complicated because Anna enrolls McClure in a plot to smuggle her grandfather, Dadyda Gourdjiev – a Russian power broker, out of Russsia.

This book is filled with action in multiple locations to include Russia, Rome and Washington DC. The action often results in the death of many to include the death of several allies of the heroes in this book.

Even after having read the three earlier books in this series, I still found Father Night very challenging to read – trying to remember all the characters and sub-plots to understand where the story was headed. While challenging, it was still a good read because Van Lustbader successfully connects everything and even introduces some Nazi related intrigue.

I recommend Father Night to those who like a challenge – but I also encourage these readers to persevere because the ending is worth it.

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