Review by Booklist Review
Despite the blockbuster names, it's difficult to imagine a more unlikely pairing than Patterson, known for stripping away everything but the absolute essentials from his fiction, and Clinton, a gifted orator never known for keeping it short. And while Clinton is certainly not the first high-level politician to write fiction (or, if we count Donald Trump's Trump Tower, even the first president to receive a coauthor credit for a potboiler), the appearance of this high-profile, commercial thriller (jointly published by Knopf and Little, Brown), is certainly a landmark moment. But does it deserve a place on a shelf in Clinton's presidential library? Though the plot is convoluted, the premise is straightforward: a terrorist group, Sons of Jihad, led by one Suliman Cindoruk, is threatening to unleash a computer virus that could almost literally return the U.S. to the Dark Ages. President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, battling the threat of impeachment, receives an offer to negotiate in person and, donning a disguise and shedding his security detail, meets a shadowy figure at a Washington Nationals baseball game, just before all hell breaks loose. Patterson ensures the plot purrs like a finely tuned machine, from the ticking clock of imminent disaster to suspenseful health complications (Duncan suffers from a blood disease that threatens to drop him at any moment), to an intrepid assassin completing the archetypal one last job. Clinton's input makes the executive experience plausible and effectively conveys the weight of the presidency, from diplomatic negotiations to Secret Service protocol, to mundane observations, such as, I haven't opened my own car door for a decade. Was there an unnamed co-conspirator on hand to do the actual typing? Well, that's classified, but there surely was a lot of typing, as this tops out at more than 500 pages of tense negotiations, firefights, chase scenes, and betrayals. (Do you really think the jihadists were the only ones behind it?) All must take responsibility for the prose, which includes such gems as, the mental gymnastics I have to perform while defending myself with one hand tied behind my back. Some readers may be disappointed that the premise inherent in the title is a bit of a head fake, and the battle-hardened Duncan doesn't really go off the grid to tangle with the bad guys mano a mano. But what does happen is ultimately more plausible. Comparing narrators to authors is a fool's errand, but when an ex-president is writing about a sitting president whose name is rhythmically similar in first-person, present-tense, no less it's also irresistible. The widowed Duncan (draw your own conclusions) is a former stud baseball player, a war hero (an Airborne Ranger in Desert Storm, he was captured and tortured), and a southern Democrat who is facing a real threat of impeachment by a powerful speaker of the house for a misunderstood but noble reason he can't disclose. Supporting characters constantly remind us of Duncan's courage, sparing him the hassle but, despite all that, he's just a regular guy at heart. Clinton doesn't help us steer clear of comparisons, for it's his voice we hear as the narrator whopops up time and again to justify his actions in the face of ignorant opposition, to opine on the state of the republic, to offer geopolitical lessons, and to remind us just how much he feels everyone's pain. Even after the dust has settled, the podium hound can't resist the opportunity for one last State of the Union speech. It's easy to imagine the high-level diplomatic negotiations as Patterson tries, with limited success, to keep his verbose partner in check. One of the half-dozen dedications is, To Hillary Clinton, who has lived with and worked against this threat and the consequences of unheeded warnings . . . . Is this book intended to be a real caution about a serious threat? If so, it's a curious vehicle, but perhaps appropriate to the time in which we live. Half thriller, half policy primer, this is a strangely compelling addition to Clinton's presidential papers.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Former president Clinton (My Life) and bestseller Patterson (The People vs. Alex Cross) deliver a page-turning thriller that rivals the best work of such genre titans as Brad Meltzer and Vince Flynn. President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan is un-der fire from the 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 out-come 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. Fans of the TV series 24 and the movie Air Force One will be riveted. Agent: Bob Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Review by Library Journal Review
Uneasy lies the head of the person who is the President of the United States. This thriller, copenned by former president Clinton ("42") and best-selling author Patterson, opens with President Duncan preparing for an impeachment hearing. He has been accused of preventing the death of known terrorist Suliman Cindoruk, who is still on the loose. But unbeknownst to his congressional accusers, Duncan needs to keep Cindoruk alive because of a cyberterrorism threat known as Dark Ages. This virus, once activated, would wipe out data on all electronic devices and violently disrupt the country in a matter of minutes. Time is running out, and Duncan will personally stop at nothing to prevent this chaos from engulfing the country. Verdict Clinton, offering the inside scoop on life in the White House, and Patterson, spinning a tense plot, are a dynamic duo weaving a suspenseful and gripping technohriller that will leave readers wondering, "Could this really happen?" Highly recommended for thriller and suspense fans. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17; Clinton and Patterson will be appearing at BookCon.-Ed.]-Susan Moritz, Silver Spring, MD © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.