The President’s Daughter, by James Patterson and Bill Clinton

Nine stars

Never sure what to expect when his name dons the cover of a book, I reached for this James Patterson thriller with some trepidation. After reading just a few pages, I was hooked and could not get enough of this collaborative effort with former US President Bill Clinton. The story was both intense and well-structured, with details that added to it throughout. Patterson and Clinton write well together and keep a political, emotional, and dastardly high throughout the plot, leaving the reader to wonder what’s to come. I could not put it down and can only hope that they will collaborate once more, in the coming years.

The presidency of the United States is a delicate balance of decision-making and appeasing the masses, as Matt Keating has come to discover. On one fateful night, while trying to extract some soldiers in a far-away land, President Keating made a fateful mistake and caused a gaffe that resonated around the world. The fallout of this led to his own vice- president challenging him for re-election and Keating was sent packing from the White House.

With a new Administration in control, the Keatings return to some semblance of order in New Hampshire, trying to recapture a life of solitude and normalcy. However, Matt Keating’s past can never entirely separate itself from him. While out hiking one day, Mel Keating, the former First Daughter, is come upon by a group of men. They take her into their custody an set off a series of panicked calls. Mel Keating has been kidnapped and the Secret Service meant to protect her has failed.

What begins as a small panic soon turns disastrous, as ransom demands are made by a powerful terrorist group, claiming retribution for an attack in Libya years before. Matt Keating is beside himself and does all he can, but the new POTUS stands firm with her decision not to negotiate with terrorists. After a video of Mel Keating’s execution is broadcast, things turn dark and the world takes notice.

As a former Navy SEAL, Matt Keating cannot sit idly by and wait for fate to take its course. He vows to do al that he can to find the man responsible for the kidnapping and murder of his daughter, seeking his own form of retribution. Working back channels and avenues no politician could be expected to know, Keating travels to the far reaches of Africa in search of a man who has also lost a great deal. Two fathers, a similar sentiment in them both… one fate. A stellar piece of writing from both Patterson and Clinton, which kept me flipping pages and gasping.

While I have had mixed results when it comes to novels by James Patterson, this was one book that did not disappoint in the least. The writing was top-notch and the story continued to develop throughout the reading experience. I could not get enough of things and kept pushing to learn more with each moment I had to enjoy. Patterson and Clinton make a formidable duo and their style is sure to impress many who enjoy the thriller genre. Mixing politics with personal passions, the story was truly impactful and sure to be talked about well into the future.

While Matt Keating is the obvious protagonist, the story pulled on the first hand accounts of many throughout the experience. The struggles of being a world superpower cannot be dismissed, but it is Matt Keating’s role as father that fuels much of his development in the novel. Having had to make some tough decisions, it is all on his shoulders to right a wrong, or at least save his family from the fallout of his choices. His grit and determination is like no other, as he faces down many who would again wish him to fail. The love of a father cannot be overlooked, on both sides of the coin.

Experiences drawn from the Clinton White House surely flavoured parts of this book, but they can only go so far to create a stunning thriller. The writing must take the reader that extra step and create a story that is worthy. Patterson and Clinton do that here quite effectively, pushing the limits with political backstory and emotional development. The narrative worked well to drive things forward, gaining momentum with each passing chapter. The plot did not remain stagnant or follow a linear path, but rather twisted at the right moments and kept the reader on the edge of their seats. Strong characters on both sides emerged, as well as a third party with their own ideas on how to capitalize on the situation, making for added intrigue when the time was right. I could not get enough of this piece, which still included the Patterson-esque short chapters to tease the reader throughout. I can only hope there is more to come by these two men in the foreseeable future.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Clinton, for a winner. Just what I needed to pick me up at this time of year!

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

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: