A review of “The President Is Missing” by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Billed as “With details only a president could know and the kind of suspense only James Patterson can deliver”, this political thriller has been a best-seller and is set to to be turned into an ongoing drama series for television. So does it justify the hype? Of course, not. 

On the plus side, it is immensely readable. Using the present tense and the first person perspective of US President Jonathan Duncan, the 500 pages are divided into no less than 128 short chapters (several only a page or less) with most chapters ending with a teasing sentence inviting the reader to keep going. There is lots of dialogue and some (not enough) exciting action. And there are a few political homilies, notabably in a concluding address to a joint session of Congress.

But the plotting – a devastating cyber attack on America foiled by an heroic president – is weak and the writing (for all its military and intelligence references and regular plot twists) is simple as the writers play with the reader’s expectations. The leading personages are cardboard characters and, in the case of the prime villain especially, very much under-written.


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