The President is Missing will make for rapt, and for many, even obsessive, reading. Whatever the internal division of labor between Clinton and Patterson, the book is outstanding. It is a compelling thriller that gets you to care about the varied people in it and what happens to them while you inhabit the world it creates. There are one or two unresolved loose ends (I won’t spoil it by saying which ones). But that does not undermine the novel’s notably compelling characters, its deep insider’s view of the White House and politics, and the velocity that compels readers to turn each page with eager anticipation.
Clinton and Patterson’s fictional commander in chief brims with humanity, character and stoicism ... Without divulging any of the satisfying plot twists, I can report that the novel unspools smoothly. Only in its final pages does it get bogged down with a few too many unsubtle messages about the current state of our politics ... It explores the thin line between loyalty and duty on one side and resentment and temptation on the other that can corrupt even the most honorable of public servants, and it shines a spotlight on the deep commitment of America’s adversaries to tear us apart and weaken our standing in the world.
...the entire novel has an air of narrative lockdown, with Duncan seldom interacting with anyone beyond his immediate circle or his international peers, even after he has flown the official coop. His pronouncements, on the page, evince an ardent faith in government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but you badly want him to hang out with the people ... Whatever the ratio of their labors, one thing is certain: everything you expect from Patterson is here, unadulterated, right down to the ritual mixing of the metaphors ... In short, not even an ex-President, for all his heft and influence, can mar the charms of so transcendent a technique, or curb its ability to suck us in...It goes without saying that The President Is Missing is written in the present tense, or, to be accurate, in a specialist subset of that tense. Think of it as the hysteric present ... Let’s be fair, though. Somehow, The President Is Missing rises above its blithely forgivable faults. It’s a go-to read. It maximizes its potency and fulfills its mission. There’s a twist or two of which Frederick Forsyth might be proud. So, if you want to make the most of your late-capitalist leisure-time, hit the couch, crack a Bud, punch the book open, focus your squint, and enjoy.