I’m a huge Louise Penny fan (both of her writing and of her!) so when I heard she was not only writing a book outside of her Inspector Gamache series, but her co-author was Hillary Clinton, I was excited. I assumed I would like the book but how would her writing translate from a cozy style to a more thriller-esque mystery? While I had some minor issues, overall I enjoyed this book and I would read another one by her and Clinton if they decide to continue their collaboration.
As far as thrillers go, State of Terror succeeded in keeping me in suspense, anticipation, and excitement with a compelling story and interesting characters, despite the story being based on real events and characters clearly based on actual politicians. The story starts with several bombs being detonated in cities across the world, with the implication that these attacks are only the beginning of a wave of increasingly larger and more deadly attacks. Tasked to investigate and stop the terrorists is the new Secretary of State, Ellen Adams who has surprisingly accepted the position despite President Douglas Williams being her political rival. On the surface, this seems like a shrewd move by Williams and an attempt to heal the divide in their party, but Adams knows the truth-he wants her to fail so all the blame will fall on her when he can’t repair the damage the former President inflicted on the country and the world. Penny and Clinton don’t attempt to hide that the former President in this book is based on our actual former guy, just as Secretary Adams is based on Clinton herself. While I understand why they chose to do this, I sometimes found this distracting because I couldn’t stop thinking about the real people these characters were based on. (As it turns out, there were several more characters based on real people, as revealed in the acknowledgements at the end but they are minor so I didn’t notice). The original characters, and there were a lot, added to the story in ways that made sense and I was given time to get to know them so when they found themselves in dangerous situations, I found myself caring about what happened to them. There’s nothing worse in a thriller than not caring when you should because that takes you right out of the story. It could have been confusing with so many characters but the decision to change the points of view frequently helped me to not forget who each person was and kept me invested in each person’s storyline.
Where this book really excels is the story, which manages to avoid playing into stereotypes while being accurate to the real threats the world is facing right now. You can tell this was Clinton’s time to shine and her expertise shows. The threats in this book feel real and that must be thanks to Clinton’s knowledge in foreign affairs. My main issue with this book, and honestly with most thrillers, is that it was just too long. Pages could have been cut without sacrificing the story and it still would have been a hefty size.
This was a decent thriller written by a great writer and a woman with exceptional government knowledge. The story kept me engaged the whole time and I thought it wrapped up well. I think most people would find it an easy to read, enjoyable book and I recommend it.
Release Date: October 12, 2021
Rating: 4 Stars