The President is Missing book review: All-action man about the House | Books | Entertainment



He has always been a big fan and champion of crime novels so it is no surprise that his first novel is a thriller.

One of the more eloquent presidents of recent times, Mr Clinton has nevertheless wisely taken on the services of a professional wordsmith to help with the writing.

He has made the canniest possible choice of collaborator – mega-selling novelist James Patterson, thought to be the best-selling author alive.

Patterson knows how to make a story go so fast that you get to the end before you’ve barely registered reading the words “Chapter One”. And Patterson may help with getting sales as well as polishing the prose.

He has sold more than 300 million books whereas Clinton never received more than a paltry 47 million votes in an election. Still, Clinton is the real draw on the title page.

This is a novel about a US president so readers will be hoping for plenty of juicy insights and insider gossip about what it’s really like to be the President of the United States, or Potus as he is commonly known. They may be disappointed.

There are anecdotes about White House wallpaper and so on which are presumably true but there is no real sense that Clinton is giving us exclusive access into anything we don’t already know about life at the White House.

Instead we get an enjoyably melodramatic yarn involving President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan who is distinctly Clinton-esque, apart from being a war hero and a widower.

(No snarky comments about this being a work of wish fulfilment, please.)

The US is in grave danger from an imminent cyber attack and, for various unlikely reasons, President Duncan has to escape his security detail, adopt a disguise and set off after the pesky terrorists himself.

Throw in a smouldering assassin who describes herself as “a tall, leggy, busty red-head, hiding in plain sight” and you have the ingredients for a deliciously silly potboiler.

There are a few too many sermons about the debasement of modern political discourse.

“We’re using modern technology to revert to primitive kinds of human relations,” Duncan complains, declaring that “emotion trumps evidence” (and note that verb).

You get the impression that this is the price Patterson has to pay to work with his star collaborator. But the normal Patterson arrangement of no-frills storytelling is always quickly resumed.

Like most of Patterson’s books, this is a friction-free read that is difficult to put down and instantly forgettable the moment you’ve finished it.


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