Book – The President is Missing

Author – Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Year – 2018

Pages – 513

Genre – Thriller

I recently flew to Scotland for the wonderful wedding of Katie and Ewan. I knew that I was getting to the airport nice and early, but I was struck with the indecision of working out which book I wanted to take. I was not part way through one at the time, and could not work out what I fancied. I stuck a couple of books in my bag, generally not particularly happy with my choices, but aware that it would be better to push on with something rather than stare blankly at Twitter for three hours.

As someone who rarely flies, I had totally forgotten about the age old tradition of “airport books”. With so much time to spare, and not a lot more at Southend Airport than a bar and a well stocked WH Smiths, I was able to browse about and do something I very rarely do – buy a new book. As a proud owner of approximately 2,000 books (no, I don’t really think I am exaggerating) and someone who loves browsing charity shops for ways to add to this pile, I do not often go in and pick a book that I would like to read from a shop. In this case, it is a good job that I did however, as my plane was delayed by four hours – I needed a good read.

The book I chose (well, one of the two books I chose, but more about the other in my next post) is a thriller by James Patterson and the former President of the USA, Bill Clinton. I picked this one as I figured that it probably wasn’t going to be a particularly tough read. I was absolutely correct.

Jonathon Duncan is the President of the USA. He is facing potential impeachment for collaborating with terrorists, but he also knows that he has far bigger problems. They have discovered that a terrorist group has gotten their hands on a potentially catastrophic computer virus and could be using it to bring his country to its knees. With very few people that he can trust, he has to go undercover to meet with some hackers who could hold the key to saving the USA.

It was difficult to type that without imagining it in a big Hollywood voice. And that is most certainly the aim. If you are looking for realism here, it is in short supply. The president going off grid to meet a hacker without secret service seems unlikely to say the least. There are stereotypes aplenty of the incredibly efficient chief-of-staff, stoic secret service agents and outlandish European leaders. The president himself is too good to be true – war hero and former pro baseball player, good looking, patriotic, grieving his wife who died in office although he wouldn’t let that get in the way of his job, adept at literally every skill he would need through this crazy journey – and probably fulfils every wish of his author rather than the reader.

But despite this, it is such a fun book. It keeps you on your toes, is full of action, and has just enough political intrigue for geeks like me to enjoy. You can see the twists coming a mile off, but it doesn’t matter when you are just flying through something like this. You just want some big characters and some nice set pieces and that is what you get. It screams out “Make me into a movie!” and I was totally unsurprised to find that one is currently in production.

I tend to overrate books I think. I give out a lot of 10/10s. This tends to be because I usually rate a book on how much I enjoyed it rather than how good it actually is. This is the kind of book that reminds me why that is the case. I learnt nothing from this book. I wouldn’t read it again or probably insist that anyone I knew read it themselves. I could probably watch the TV show or film when it comes out without remembering much of the plot. But it was fun, and no struggle at all to read, and if you can absorb a book in a day like I can (especially when your plane is late) then you could do far worse.