Arts

Books: Bill Clinton-James Patterson novel one you'll whip through on the beach

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

BOOK OF THE WEEK

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson is published in hardback by Century, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

WELL, this has been seriously hyped. A collaboration between commercial thriller juggernaut James Patterson and former leader of the free world Bill Clinton – the casting alone is enough to make you want to read it, even if you're not usually into stories fraught with potential terrorist cyber-attacks that could trigger panic and shut down America. President Jon Duncan, an Iraq war veteran and recent widower – who's also battling a blood disorder and possible impeachment – is in the throes of trying to outwit the leader of the so-called Sons of Jihad. Although there's little wit and rather a lot of US political logistics to get your head around, it's most engaging when you're attempting to decipher which bits are Patterson, and which are all Clinton. It's like watching reality TV and trying to separate the staged moments from the real ones. Clinton's stamp of approval helps tether your disbelief when the plot sidles into the far-fetched, while Duncan's words can be biting and timely, if a little arduous. Intriguing, if not engrossing, you'll whip through it on the beach, that's for sure.

7/10

Ella Walker

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £12.99 (ebook £6.99). Available June 14

HOW Do You Like Me Now? – is it this generation's answer to Bridget Jones Diary? As if navigating your early 30s wasn't already tough enough, Tori Bailey is doing it as an inspirational memoir writer whose reality is secretly far from perfect. Despite her massive fan following that hang her off her every #GirlBoss mantra and humble bragging blog posts, she's deeply unhappy. Stuck in a stale relationship while helplessly watching her friends around her marry and progress, Tori can't help but think her entire persona and claim to fame are little more than a lie. To make matters worse, she's under pressure from her publisher to write another bestseller. How Do You Like Me Now? is not just unflinchingly hilarious, but at many times poignant. Adding a social media and millennial take to the Bridget Jones Diary genre, Holly Bourne's novel is a raucous and relatable read for anyone who's ever feared getting left behind.

9/10

Laura Hannam

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

RACHEL Kushner's second novel The Flamethrowers – a macho tale of motorcycle racing and 1970s political activism – scorched the book charts and divided critics. In her follow-up, the Oregon-born writer restricts her gaze to the drab walls and iron bars of a women's prison in contemporary America – but Netflix comedy drama Orange Is The New Black this is not. Kushner went undercover in a maximum security facility in order to better embody The Mars Room's main character, Romy, who is serving a double life sentence for murder. Our sympathies shift to and fro as the details of her crime – and those of her cellmates' – are skilfully revealed and Kushner takes every opportunity to expose the frailties of the justice system. At times a visceral portrait of prison life, the novel also paints a picture of a seedy outside world which can stealthily suck poor and unfortunate souls into lives of crime.

7/10

James Cann

NON-FICTION

China's Great Wall of Debt by Dinny McMahon is published in hardback by Little, Brown, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

CHINA has accumulated so much debt over the past decade that economists have long been warning of a financial crisis that could trigger the next global recession. In his debut book, ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Dinny McMahon takes an in-depth look at the complex inner workings of China's financial system. Investigating issues such as corruption, overproduction and the country's incredible housing boom, he illustrates how China has sacrificed long-term stability in the interest of short-term growth. He also looks at the key role that land plays in the economy, and the terrible consequences for ordinary citizens who have been driven from their homes. McMahon's journalistic background helps to turn what could have been a rather dry read into an engaging economy lesson: Human stories are at the heart of every chapter, and – having lived in Beijing for six years – he draws on numerous contacts to bring this well-researched analysis to life.

8/10

Verena Vogt

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