The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Eight stars

James Patterson has entered into his most interesting collaboration yet, taking second chair to former American president Bill Clinton in a story that is highly political and action packed from the opening paragraph through to the epilogue’s lingering final sentence. President Jonathan Duncan finds himself in the middle of a congressional witch hunt. The former military hero has stories about outlasting Iraqi torturers, but when it comes to an opposition Congress, he’s forced to accept an attack on all sides. The issue working to protect the Sons of Jihad, a known terrorist organisation, and its leader, Suliman Cindoruk. Duncan denies the allegations and has tried using Executive Privilege in regards to what happened, but the committee will hear none of it. Rumours begin that impeachment may be the only answer, though Duncan refuses to discuss what he knows with anyone, particularly with the television cameras glaring in his direction. Back in the Oval Office, Duncan receives a call from his daughter about a highly confusing encounter she had in France when she was approached by a mysterious woman. The First Daughter was asked to pass along the urgency that this woman meet with POTUS, uttering a highly classified code word to cement her seriousness. This word is one known only to the top echelon of the National Security Team, leaving POTUS to wonder who’s been leaking classified information. Duncan meets with this woman, who outlines a story about a potential cyber attack on America. Whisked away from the public eye, Duncan learns more about the attack how deadly it could be to the nation as a whole. Remaining off the radar, POTUS is presumed missing while the rest of the world tries to make sense of what is going on. With only a handful of people aware of the imminent attack, the clueless vice-president must wait to see what steps she might need to take and the country seeks answers. With a country unaware of this cyber-attack and their president nowhere to be found, it is only a matter of time before someone will have to take the reins of power. That play could have dire consequences without the full picture. How long will POTUS remain missing and what’s being done to address this terror event? And what of this sly assassin, code named Bach, who seems to have a mission all her own? Clinton and Patterson deliver a sensational thriller full of twists and political insider knowledge. It’s sure to impress many and might leave some wondering if they ought to try some of Patterson’s newer work. Recommended for thriller buffs, particularly those who enjoy something with a political and terror twist.

This is surely not your typical James Patterson novel, leading me to wonder just how much influence the former president had in its writing. In a book full of insider knowledge of the American political system, Clinton and Patterson weave a story that has all the essential ingredients to be a top-notch thriller that will keep the reader engaged for hours as they push through to the climactic ending. The story is full of wonderful character development, particularly Jonathan Duncan, whose victories and foibles are documented in equal measure. Clinton and Patterson have also created a number of highly-intriguing characters that serve to entertain the reader, some more likeable than others. Told in a four narrator style, the authors weave a story that is told from various perspectives, which only enriches the overall delivery. There are many aspects of the book that will intrigue a large cross-section of the reading population, which can only help to ensure its success. I found myself enthralled by the political narrative, but also the well-paced action and terrorism as it progresses. The book is a mix of Patterson’s short cliffhanger chapters and longer (mainstream?) chapters that pull the reader in and develop a theme quite effectively. One can only presume that this is Clinton’s doing, wanting to flesh-out some of the political perspectives that cannot be packaged into three pages. There are even digs at the current administration with long-winded speeches about re-inventing America, a country lost over the last number of years. A strong effort with some apparent ghost writing by David Ellis, another of Patterson’s collaborators, this is not a book to miss and could be one of the better travel reads of the next few months. One can hope that Patterson and Clinton will collaborate again, for this surely ups the ante when it comes to novels bearing the former’s name on the cover.

Kudos, President Clinton and Mr. Patterson, for a great novel. I was hooked from the start and can see how well you two appear to work together. Please say that there is more to come.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: