I wanted to dislike “The President is Missing” by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. After all, a cynic might say that a book co-written by an ex-president and one of the country’s most commercially successful and prolific novelists might be an easy means to cash in on their respective successes. I felt this book would be a huge best-seller no matter what it contained, but most likely would not live up to the book’s promise. I have to admit I was completely wrong about this book. This was a really interesting read, and although I found it a bit tedious at times, I thoroughly enjoyed its conclusion. The last third of the book held my attention like a good thriller should. The authors combined the intimate knowledge of the Presidency that only an ex-president would have, with the superb writing craft of a best-selling author. It worked! “The President is Missing” will be a best seller, and it deserves it on its own, not just on the prior accomplishments of its coauthors.
The book starts when the president decides he is the only one who can stop an immediate crisis. The premise sounds far-fetched, but Clinton and Patterson pull it off. It is very believable. The book is largely written from the first person point of view of the president of the United States, facing congressional hearings, personal issues, and an unfriendly political landscape. I found the first few chapters, dealing with the machination of congressional hearings, to be completely riveting, with the voice of an ex-president who is familiar with the process coming through loud and clear. The first few chapters were, in my opinion, the strongest part of the book. The middle of the book moved very slowly for me, but the conclusion held my attention to the very last page. I look forward to another installment in the collaborative effort of Clinton and Patterson.
The book has a few weaknesses, in my opinion, but none that should discourage a potential reader from investing some time into “The President is Missing”. I felt the characters could have been developed more fully. The character of the president is the most fully developed, as I would have expected. Perhaps one might criticize this character as being a little too saint-like. The characters who surrounded the president could have been a lot richer. Even the bad guys in this book could have been fleshed out a little more. My major criticism of the book was that it was a bit preachy, with the president prone to long speeches that detracted a little bit from the plot. I guess ex-presidents can do that and get away with it. Clinton and Patterson certainly got away with it. The preaching did not detract from my enjoyment at all.
I obtained this 2018 book as a gift from a family member. I also posted a copy of this review in Goodreads.