Review published on June 11, 2018.
“We’re using modern technology to revert to primitive kinds of human relations” says President Jonathan Duncan in this big political thriller jointly written by ex-President Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Who could they be referring to?
There are some subtle (and non-subtle) references to those in politics who speak before thinking and we are soon drawn into a complicated and gripping plot as the President – on the eve of potential impeachment (Clinton would have lots of knowledge about that of course) he finds himself and America on the brink of a huge terrorist threat.
I’ve never read any of Patterson’s books before but find he holds the Guinness World Record for the most No. 1 New York Times bestsellers and his books have sold over 375 million copies worldwide. I have some catching up to do as I found the style engrossing and the detail about the intricacies of the politics and the international espionage enthralling.
Duncan is in his first term as President (from all the hints he’s a Democrat, often coming against those pesky red-neck Republicans) and he’s also a war veteran and former prisoner of war having fought in the Desert Storm campaign in Iraq. His wife has died of cancer quite recently (Hillary obviously wanted to avoid any comparisons with her as First Lady) and his daughter Lilly is studying abroad.
The impeachment hearings are concerned about leaks that the President has been talking to a known terrorist, Suliman Cindoruk, and a plot that went wrong whereby a young American agent has been killed.
But there is something the President knows that is more important than Senate squabbles, his own deteriorating health or the cruel politics in the White House.
A young, classical music loving vegetarian female assassin has landed in America and is stalking around on a top level mission.
Should the President take a huge personal risk to try and avert disaster and. as plots unfold. who, even amongst his own close advisers and friends. can he trust? The action takes place over a few short days and focuses the need to definitely keep ‘turning the page’.
If you are a fan of The West Wing or even (despite Spacey) House of Cards, this makes for compulsive reading. The intricacies of political responses to terrorist threats are current and we learn how diplomacy tries to avert death – sometimes with its own disastrous consequences. I was amused to find Britain didn’t feature amongst world leaders – but in a post-Brexit world maybe we don’t now.
It would be great to hear about the balance of input on the writing between Clinton and Patterson but both have much to offer in this collaboration.
Worryingly, this ‘political thriller of the decade’ (says author Lee Child) may force Hillary Clinton’s recent book onto the sidelines – pretty much like her attempt at election to the Presidency. I also whilst reading could easily picture Clinton undertaking these dangerous and world changing events – but could I imagine Donald Trump in such a role?
A great personal read as I love to learn more about American politics and, for a book club, one for fans of crime thrillers at their best.
Philipa Coughlan 5/3
The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
Century 9781780898391 hbk Jun 2018
SECOND OPINION: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton