cover image State of Terror

State of Terror

Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Simon & Schuster/St. Martin's, $30 (512p) ISBN 978-1-9821-7367-8

Rapid-fire plot twists are at the fore of this derivative thriller, set in an alternative 2021, from bestsellers Penny (the Inspector Gamache series) and Clinton (What Happened), making her fiction debut. Douglas Williams, who has become president following the defeat of his Trumpian predecessor, has named Ellen Adams, a media mogul who supported his opponents, as his secretary of state. After a disastrous mission Adams undertakes in South Korea, she soon has another, larger crisis to manage. Bus bombs in London, Paris, and Frankfurt kill dozens, but no individual or group claims responsibility for them, suggesting that the atrocities are a prologue to future attacks, possibly in the U.S. Adams travels to hostile terrain, including Teheran and Islamabad, in a desperate effort to avert a mega-terror event on U.S. soil. Though the cadences and humor of Penny's mysteries are present, they're not enough to compensate for a story line heavily dependent on contrivances and implausibilities. This is more likely to appeal to fans of Bill Clinton and James Patterson's The President's Daughter than the legion of readers devoted to Penny's Inspector Gamache novels. Agents: Bob Barnett, Williams & Connelly, and David Gernert, Gernert Company. (Oct.)