State of Terror
Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny
It’s been said that people write fiction to make a point. If that’s the case, then this novel really makes a point of showing the reader how much the US has suffered as a result of Donald Trump. Here he’s called Eric Dunn, or Eric the Dumb – but of course we all know who he is.
And though we might have laughed at his antics, and even laughed at America for electing him, the damage he leaves in his wake is not funny. US diplomatic relations have suffered, enormously and it will take more than just a change of president to undo the harm.
And that, I guess, is the point here – even though it’s dressed up as a work of fiction, and a pretty frightening one too.
Ellen Adams is the secretary of state in the new post-Eric Dunn administration. And though the new president is obviously a Democrat, there’s no love lost between him and Ellen Adams. But she figures she’s in the job for her country, not for her president, so she suffers the slings and arrows and gets on with it.
A junior outpost member of staff receives a mysterious text which she deletes, but not before writing it down first. It transpires that the text refers to three particular bus timetables. A bomb has been planted on each bus – and there is carnage in three major European cities.
The prime suspects are Isis but the modus operandum here is different. And the bombers don’t blow themselves up.
It’s a disaster of a start for Ellen Adams in her new post, but she has to get to the bottom of it and she’s up against a literal ticking time bomb. She also has to contend with fingers of suspicion pointing in all directions, including hers.
Her estranged son is dragged into it. He has connections with the girl who received the text. He has also converted to Islam, something Ellen is not allowed to forget – but to say more would be to spoil things.
I must admit my heart sank at the prospect of another novel co-written by a public figure – there are so many of them about these days. But I was pleasantly surprised. While this is full of score-settling, maybe too much so, it’s also a real page-turner.
Louise Penny is an old hand at crime fiction and has said in interviews that she thought a political thriller would be beyond her. Turns out it wasn’t, or at least not with Rodham Clinton as her partner.
Not only that, but the duo are already working on another title. Though State of Terror will be a hard act to follow.