“Bill Clinton and James Patterson Are Back in Action—and Still Ridiculous”

From a Washington Post book review by Ron Charles headlined “Bill Clinton and James Patterson are back in action—and still ridiculous”:

Over the past three years, Bill Clinton and James Patterson have developed a bankable formula: In their previous thriller, a U.S. president went missing. In their new thriller, a president’s daughter goes missing.

If this keeps up, someday we’ll have to read a thriller about the president’s lost cat, his missing keys, an errant sock.

And why not? “The President Is Missing” was the best-selling novel of 2018, demonstrating that, as in politics, nothing sells like name recognition. Tellingly, “The President’s Daughter” opens with a shout-out to Washington superagent Robert Barnett, who convinced these two American brands they could cash in yet again….

Readers expecting a sequel, though, will discover that this new novel offers an entirely different cast of characters. “The President Is Missing” gave us President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, a former Gulf War hero who battles a dastardly terrorist. But “The President’s Daughter” gives us President Matthew Keating, a former Navy SEAL hero who battles a dastardly terrorist. It’s a change as startling as the shift from tan to beige.

With this brave and monogamous hero, Clinton has once again revealed such a naked fantasy version of himself that you almost feel embarrassed for the man. And that’s pretty much where the revelations peter out. The publishers claim that Clinton has contributed information that could be provided only by a former president — or, I would add, by somebody who’s watched an episode of “Homeland.”…

The cynical cliches about Washington bureaucracy laced through “The President’s Daughter” weren’t even fresh in the previous century when Clinton was lying to the American people about “that woman.” And after four years of President Donald Trump’s fascistic assaults on journalists, the novel’s smears against the free press suggest that Clinton still isn’t willing to put the country before his own stale grudges.

But it would be unfair to say that there’s no suspense in “The President’s Daughter.” Again and again, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering, “Can this story get any sillier?” In that respect, this is a novel that continually defies expectations — all presented in chapters so short you could read one during a yawn.

At the opening, President Keating sits in the White House situation room watching a high-stakes military operation 5,000 miles away. SEAL Team Six has just landed in Libya to track down and kill Asim Al-Asheed, the world’s most vicious killer….

Keating is now out of office, replaced by his own vice president, a conniving woman with “short blond hair perfectly styled and in place.” (I’m dying to know how that line went over at the Clinton breakfast table.) But no hard feelings. The former president is enjoying retirement in New Hampshire, chopping wood….Little does he suspect that this pastoral life is about to be shattered.

While hiking nearby with her boyfriend, Keating’s only daughter, 19-year-old Melanie, is kidnapped by Al-Asheed and whisked to an undisclosed location. With the whole world watching, the fanatic who has set nations aflame is about to focus the full force of his sadistic rage on one young woman. It’s every parent’s nightmare wrapped up in a tasty slice of Islamofascist terror.

Of course, the lumbering U.S. government can’t or won’t do anything to help. With no money and no military at his disposal, Keating does what any dad would do: He assembles a team of death-defying Secret Service agents, rules-be-damned Navy SEALs and “a young lady…on the spectrum” who’s a computer genius. Drawing inspiration from America’s most advanced missiles, the text of “The President’s Daughter” is capable of hitting multiple stereotypes simultaneously.

“I’m an ex-POTUS now,” Keating says with his Mount Rushmore gaze. “And I’m also a father who’s willing to go anywhere, and kill anyone involved, to get his daughter back.”…

Will Keating reach his daughter before it’s too late?

Save yourself.

Ron Charles writes about books for The Washington Post and hosts TotallyHipVideoBookReview.com.

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