Book Review: ‘The President’s Daughter,’ by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

It is comparatively straightforward to know why a former president whose daughter is kidnapped by terrorists may wish to set up his personal unauthorized paramilitary pressure to rescue her. But attempt explaining it to the present president.

“Director Blair, he can’t be conducting military operations on his own,” President Pamela Barnes whines ineffectually to her F.B.I. director in “The President’s Daughter,” the second swaggering political thriller produced by the unlikely writing workforce of James Patterson and Bill Clinton. “You’ve got to send agents there and stop him.”

But “Director Blair” can no extra cease the inexorable pressure that’s former President Matthew Keating — a hard-living, no-guff ex-Navy SEAL who, as president, as soon as motivated a naval commander throughout a kill operation by barking: “Now you squids body-bag that son of a bitch” — than Keating’s buddies can resist his entreaties for assist in his foolhardy plan.

“You got it,” responds Trask Floyd, an previous navy buddy turned “wealthy actor and movie director,” when Keating asks for his assist. “If I’m not going to be riding shotgun with you on wherever you’re going, I’ll still be behind you.”

Patterson is the writer who has launched a thousand greatest sellers, with a military of co-writers. Clinton is the ex-president whose different works embrace the memoir “My Life.” (At 1,056 pages, it’s almost 500 pages longer than this still-hefty new thriller.) Their first co-written novel, “The President Is Missing,” envisioned a situation during which the American president, dealing with a lethal cyberterrorist assault that threatens to disconnect your complete United States from the web, slips incognito right into a baseball stadium and tries to resolve the issue by himself.

What to do for an encore?

Fans of the primary e book shall be upset that its principal character, President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, doesn’t exist on this follow-up’s universe. Unlike, say, the cinematic “Taken” trilogy, during which a raddled ex-Green Beret and C.I.A. officer performed by Liam Neeson is regularly known as on to re-rescue his serially kidnapped daughter, “The President’s Daughter” has nothing to do with “The President Is Missing.” It has a brand new president, who has a brand new daughter and a brand new drawback.

But like its predecessor, this novel gives tantalizing clues into the unconscious of Clinton, now 74. As earlier than, the hero of this e book turns into president not by way of Yale Law School and Oxford University, however by the messy man-of-the-people crucible of navy service. As earlier than, there’s a unpleasant feminine politician — on this case, President Barnes, Keating’s erstwhile vp, who treacherously ran in opposition to him.

“How do you feel about being the only president in American history to lose re-election to his vice president?” a reporter asks Keating. It’s a impolite query, however then once more, as one character observes, “most D.C. journalists are 27 years old, no real experience except for reporting on political campaigns, and they literally know nothing.”

Written within the breathless current tense, with typical Pattersonian staccato exposition expressed in brief paragraph bursts (“I checked my watch. It was time”), the e book opens when Keating remains to be president, presiding over a botched assassination try on the terrorist Asim Al-Asheed. (It disastrously kills Al-Asheed’s spouse and three daughters as a substitute.) Cut to a number of years later: Barnes is president, sniping and scheming in Washington, whereas Keating is irascibly adjusting to civilian life in rural New Hampshire.

James Patterson and Bill Clinton, whose new thriller, the second they’ve written collectively, is “The President’s Daughter.”Credit…David Burnett

Keating is pushing aside writing his memoirs. His retirement actions embrace canoe races in opposition to the pinnacle of his Secret Service element. Everything is thrown into disarray when Keating’s daughter, Mel, is seized by terrorists whereas on a hike with Tim, her innocent boyfriend. Poor Tim. No sooner has he pumped himself as much as struggle off the abductors — “OK, let’s do this thing,” he thinks to himself — than he dies “in a spray of blood.”

The perpetrator is Al-Asheed. Unlike, say, Osama bin Laden, who most well-liked to orchestrate atrocities from the shadows, Al-Asheed fancies himself a terrorism influencer, posting movies on social media during which he’s within the middle of the chaos he creates — casually beheading U.N. assist employees in Sudan, as an example. The SEALs harbor an additional hate for him as a result of he killed considered one of their very own, Boyd Tanner, in an particularly ugly trend.

Al-Asheed is a scary man, however an essential characteristic of this type of e book is a hostage who refuses to point out worry. Mel’s response to her predicament is to “humiliate her kidnappers” by, amongst different issues, flinging a foul concoction consisting of her personal urine and the chemical substances in her cell’s bathroom bowl into considered one of their faces whereas yelling, “I’m not a little girl!”

Nor has Al-Asheed reckoned with the devastating single-mindedness of former President Keating, whose abilities embrace throwing on “ratty clothes, sunglasses, beard stubble and a baseball cap” so as to elude discover. He additionally has a band of loyal buddies he can name on for assist. Along with Trask Floyd, they embrace the previous head of the Mossad; an ex-Saudi intelligence official; and the U.S. Air Force secretary, who owes him a favor.

“I’m on it,” she says, agreeing to order a navy transport aircraft to present him and his small handpicked hostage-extraction workforce a journey to Tunisia. “Go with God, Mr. President.”

Let us stipulate that we aren’t studying this e book to achieve invaluable insights into the interior workings of United States international coverage. No, we’re studying for as many references to navy as doable, a formidable alphanumeric arsenal: the UH-60s, the AK-47s, the 7.62 mm Russian-made Tokarevs, the Chinese-made QSZ-92 9 mm’s, the M4 assault rifles with TAWS thermal sights. You get the image.

The terrorists appear employed from central casting, as does Jiang Lijun, a Chinese spy whose job is to symbolize Bond-movie stereotypes about inscrutability and conceitedness. “These peasants didn’t get the message that it was time to wander back to their flea-infested hovels,” he thinks at a celebration in Tripoli, smiling politely at his Libyan company. There’s additionally Keating’s pressure, comprising the requisite array of lethal commandos from varied elite businesses who deal with the ex-president as considered one of their very own.

“Get your butt over here,” Claire Boone, a member of the National Security Agency’s “clandestine service,” snaps on the former president.

It goes with out saying that nothing on this foolish however extremely entertaining e book will finish effectively for the terrorists, or the Chinese, or Pamela Barnes and her creepy husband, Richard. It’s unclear whether or not, the rescue mission however, it can even finish effectively for America. The novel sends up a flare of misery.

“The real people are still there, with their problems and potential, hopes and dreams,” says Keating’s spouse, a superb archaeologist and astute political blackmailer whose “tanned skin is flawless.”

“It’s just hard for them to make good decisions when their brains are filled, and their spirits broken, with so much crap.”