Book – The First Lady

Author – James Patterson & Brendan DuBois

Year – 2018

Pages – 338

Genre – Thriller

I am a sucker for things about the American political system. The West Wing, Hamilton, the Presidential podcast – I find it endlessly fascinating. The odd mixture of a system that is so blatantly mimicking the roots of pomp and ceremony found in the British monarchy and a strict adherence to a constitution that tried to break them from it in the first place is endlessly interesting and I am always there for some media based upon it. So when I spotted this on a shelf in a charity shop the other day, it didn’t take me too long to decide to spend a quid on it.

James Patterson writes thrillers, and if you have read anything of his before (I have) then you will be aware of what is in store with this book. President Harrison Tucker is having an affair with Tammy Doyle. Things are going smoothly until a press ambush leaves his hopes for reelection hanging in the balance, along with his marriage to The First Lady, Grace. A trip to ride her horse and clear her mind soon runs to tragedy however, as her security detail report her missing. We follow several different strands – from Tucker’s shady chief of staff, to a hired gun send to oversee what is happening – but focus primarily on Sally Grissom, the secret service agent in charge of the operation to find her.

I had a thoroughly nice time reading this book. It took me about four hours all tolled I reckon. However, it is pretty thoroughly terrible throughout.

The characters lack depth to a genuinely ridiculous degree. A brief overview of the backgrounds of some of the characters gives you some understanding of who they are, but they are only really here to keep the plot going. Patterson instead allows most characters to be basic archetypes of good and bad. The writing is formulaic to an extreme. Each chapter is between two and four pages long in order to keep the plot ticking along quickly, and even within these chapters, the use of ever decreasing sentences to make a point is so common as to quickly become a cliché. There is barely a moment of humour amongst the relentless plot, and most of the twists are either visible a mile off, or such a curveball that I am not sure it was worth having them.

I don’t say any of this to knock it particularly (although I am sure you could be fooled having read it). If you like a thriller – and who doesn’t – then I can definitely recommend this as a bright and easy read. Just don’t expect anything in regards to it being a stone cold classic. Or even something that you will remember come the next election.