Presidents and Page-Turners

Today marks the official publication date of The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson (Little, Brown). The first thriller ever penned by a onetime American president, this 528-page novel boasts all the hallmarks of a best-seller. It likely also represents the fulfillment of a dream for Clinton, a longtime fan of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction whose support of their writing has boosted the sales of books by Walter Mosley, Linda Fairstein, Daniel Silva, and others. With Patterson’s assistance, this former leader of the free world finally enters the pantheon of authors he has so much admired.

Details of the book’s story line and characters have been kept under wraps, for the most part. But Publishers Weekly recently gave this plot synopsis:

President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan is under fire from the [U.S.] House Select Committee for allegedly ordering a team of Special Forces and CIA operatives to Algeria to thwart an attempt on the life of Turkish-born terrorist Suliman Cindoruk, leader of the Sons of Jihad. Hostile committee members repeatedly ask him questions about the raid that he refuses to answer. But Duncan’s concerns about the outcome of congressional hearings into his actions are secondary to his fears that a computer virus is about to be activated that would completely cripple the United States. In order to avert that calamity, Duncan leaves the White House and his protective detail behind and attempts to gain the confidence of the shadowy figures who revealed the existence of the threat. The authors keep the suspense high as Duncan dodges bullets from a master assassin, deals with his deteriorating health from a blood clotting disorder, and strives to unmask a traitor among his inner circle of advisers.

My guess is that Clinton had a blast playing novelist. But he’s not the first scribbler to imagine a U.S. prez in peril. Not by a long shot. As I explain in a new piece for CrimeReads, The President Is Missing “joins an already packed sub-genre of political suspense novels featuring current presidents, future presidents, or their wives as the victims, perpetrators, or solvers of crimes.” Included are works by David Baldacci, Richard North Patterson, Francine Mathews, and Watergate co-conspirator John Ehrlichman.

You’ll find that CrimeReads article right here.

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