This is not my typical genre as I prefer science fiction. However, I was curious as to what Bill Clinton had to add to the world of political and military espionage. Not a lot as it turns out. For some reason I expected gritty politics with back stabbing by Democrats and Republicans all over the show. There is not only none of that on show here, there is actually very little politics at all. Which is a shame.
I read this novel after enjoying their first joint effort: “The President is missing” in which the American president, is challenged by the very topical real world threat of a deadly cyberterrorist attack. However, it lost its way towards the end when the problem is solved by the president making a solo trip to a baseball stadium.
I am not familiar with James Patterson but he is a prolific novelist and obviously saw Bill Clinton and his experience as bringing a new USP to his novels. As I read it that there is very little realism about life in the White House I could convince myself with.
The back story involves the president being shafted by his cunning yet narrow minded number two and losing the presidency to her. This came across to me as a lazy way of not addressing the bitter politics between the two parties in the USA. In fact, the absence of any debate about ideology is striking.
The novel takes the easy road of middle Eastern extremism and the blunt weapon of American military intervention as the back story to the entrapment of the President’s wife. Even then the ideology is limited. Instead, it’s just a given that American military intervention on the world stage is not very popular and leads to reprisals – let’s go with that.
But where the Clinton factor is hard to fathom the Patterson contribution looks full steam ahead. Whilst the President’s character is written more for a movie, the terrorists are both convincing, sly and unnervingly worrying in their methodology. Patterson spins a page turner of a yarn that had me wondering how the President was going to overcome the paralysing effect of American FBI and Homeland Security to retrieve his daughter.
This is the point that the yarn begins to slip into let’s not get realism get in the way of a good story. The plot twists to enable the president to slip out of the country and find his daughter are beyond credibility but why let that get in the way of the device of getting the reader behind the president defying all obstacles to save his daughter.
Another Patterson motif is his military background. Instead of being walked through valuable insights into the inner workings of American foreign policy we are subjected to flat references to military hardware in almost a list form. As tedious as it sounds.
The final scene would endow any movie with all the tension and twists and turns it offers, and keeps the reader grasping for the next scene. Overall, the quality of the story telling kept me gripped. But I could not let go of the fact this is a slightly bombastic movie script most of all. By the end I did wonder how many years the president would be sent to prison for, for all the laws and regulations he broke to find his daughter.