Tuesday, October 26, 2021

I Didn't Think I Would Enjoy It ...

... but I did! 

And by "it", I mean State of Terror, the recent release co-written by Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny. When I first read about them writing a thriller together, I immediately placed a hold at the library. I was pretty sure that it wouldn't be my favorite book this year, and in fact, I was reasonably sure that I wouldn't like it, but I did want the opportunity to read something written by these two powerhouse authors. I don't like thrillers, and even less so if they are political, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed State of Terror

The protagonist, Ellen Adams, is the Secretary of State for President Douglas Williams. They are bitter enemies, with Ellen having raked him over the coals during the primaries in her previous position as head of a media empire. She's not sure if she is part of a team of rivals or if Williams is setting her up for failure. Her job is made even more difficult because the United States is recovering from four years of chaos perpetuated by President Eric Dunn (nicknamed President Dumb). With his administration described as “near-criminal incompetence that became increasingly deranged”, it's not hard to guess who this is.

Adams flies around the world, trying to figure out who is responsible for a series of international bombings. I tried to read one of James Patterson's and Bill Clinton's books, The President is Missing, but I didn't seem to have enough testosterone to get more than a few chapters into it. Ellen Adams and her friend and counselor Betsy Jameson use their brains, and it's gratifying to read about two middle-aged women trying to save the world.
Ellen Adams was used to people underestimating her. Accomplished middle-aged women were often diminished by small men.
I rounded up this 3.5 star book because the authors ask some thoughtful questions and write with wicked humor.

I was curious about how this book came to be, and this article in The Washingtonian is one of the few I found. They authors already knew each other, and when they got calls from Stephen Rubin (a publisher at Simon & Schuster) and Bob Barnett (a lawyer and book agent), both authors felt a bit daunted. But whether you love her or hate her, Hillary Clinton has the political experience to write a political thriller, and Louise Penny has loads of respected literary experience. I think they make a great team, even if a little suspension of belief in necessary to read this entertaining book. It's a fun celebration of female friendship, and there are even Three Pines surprises for Inspector Gamache fans.

There is also a quote from Tom Peters at the beginning of the book that provides food for thought: 

The most amazing thing that has happened in my lifetime is neither putting a man on the moon nor Facebook having 2.8 billion monthly active users. It is that in the 75 years, 7 months, and 13 days since Nagasaki, a nuclear bomb has not been detonated.

I haven't often read a book that provides fun, entertainment, and thoughtfulness, but I'm not surprised that one authored by two women would contain it all. 


  1. I had completely forgotten about this book (assuming, like you, that I wouldn't like it)...maybe I should give it a try? I see you are reading Pax, The Journey Home and I just got that from my library!

  2. I was already looking forward to reading this book (two powerful and strong women writers collaborating? I'm in!) but not I'm even more excited about it. Thanks for the great review!

  3. What a great review, Bonny! I'm looking forward to reading this book as a little "palette cleanser." I don't read thrillers very often, but every once in a while they're a really great change of pace. :-)

  4. I was super excited to read this book... and then this review and I am even more excited for my turn!

    Excellent review, Bonny!

  5. I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed this one, Bonny! I'm not rushing to read it (mainly because there are so many books I'd rather read more first), but I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.

  6. I was waiting for this review, Bonny. I put it on my TBR list and placed it on hold at my library when I found out about it. If nothing else, I was intensely curious about it. Glad to hear you liked it!

  7. This isn't my usual type of book choice, either, but I put it on my to-read list after reading a laugh-out-loud review in the Washington Post. Now I'm really looking forward to it!


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