Clinton joins Patterson in novel

Former US president Bill Clinton
Former US president Bill Clinton
Image: Raymond Preston

A maverick commander-in-chief, facing down impeachment charges and a baying media, puts his presidency on the line to save humanity from impending disaster.

Reading The President is Missing, a high-octane collaboration between ex-Oval Office custodian Bill Clinton and bestseller conveyer belt James Patterson, it’s hard not to leap to the conclusion that the authors may have based their fictional Leader of the Free World on one comparatively recent holder of the office in particular.

This is Clinton’s fictional debut and, as a result of his ex-presidential status, anticipation is considerable, not least because of the sense that he might use it to pull back the curtain on the inner tickings of the White House.

But though it succeeds as a breathless read, it will underwhelm anyone seeking the inside track on the workings of Washington.

Probably most revealing are Clinton’s musings on the qualities desirable in a commander-in-chief: president Jonathan Lincoln Duncan is a straight-shooter from a southern state, an actions-first, questions-later guy, with the common touch.
A secular Middle Eastern terrorist group is about to unleash an apocalyptic computer virus upon the United States.

For reasons the book doesn’t spend very long delving into, the president has no choice but to go off the grid and sort out the bad guys in person. You can picture the Hollywood adaptation right now.

On the airport thriller spectrum, it’s more Jack Bauer than John le Carré. It’s hooey, but its addictive qualities are undeniable. Rattling through it is an impeachable offence only if you object to the idea of a novel as pure entertainment.

Clinton and Patterson went on a 16-meeting tour to select the right outlet for a theatrical film. However, Showtime is turning the book into an ongoing drama series.

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson is published by Alfred A Knopf and Little, Brown & Co. – The Daily Telegraph