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The First Lady


The First Lady

Please believe me when I tell you that THE FIRST LADY should be on your must-read list. It begins with a compelling premise, spirals off into a couple of different intriguing directions, and then all comes back together for an ending you probably won’t see coming while answering a question that it never really asks. The book gives readers all of that, along with a number of true-to-life and memorable characters and impeccable pacing. You can’t really ask for more than that, can you?

If anyone is capable of providing all of the above, it is James Patterson and co-writer Brendan DuBois, who gives us as readable a page-turner as we are likely to encounter this year. The setup is terrific. The President of the United States is a former Ohio governor named Harrison Tucker, who is two months away from an election in which he is all but assured of winning a second term. That all changes when he is caught leaving a hotel with the love of his life, Tammy Doyle, who most certainly is not his wife. There is a phalanx of reporters and cameramen present to record the event, which quickly becomes known as the “Ambush in Atlanta.”

"You may want to read THE FIRST LADY twice --- first for the enjoyment, and then for the joy of figuring out how the authors did what they did."

Grace Fuller Tucker, who is the President’s wife and the First Lady of the piece, leaves the White House and within a few hours manages to elude her Secret Service detail, disappearing from a horse camp for children that she had championed during the course of her White House tenure. Parker Hoyt, the man who has ruthlessly guided Tucker’s political career from its inception, begins doing damage control. Tucker and Hoyt task Sally Grissom, the Secret Service agent who is the head of the Presidential Protection Division, to find Grace. Grissom is not inclined to do so, but Hoyt, with a ruthlessness that is chilling, persuades her to do just that. For reasons of his own, Hoyt would like Grace to be found but doesn’t want her back. So he makes other arrangements that are cold and calculating in their redundancy and are neither shared with nor approved by Tucker.

Meanwhile, Grissom, with the assistance of Grace’s protection team, can’t locate her, but what they do find is a ransom note with proof that whoever wrote it has the First Lady in their custody. There is also a race going on, that being for Grissom and her team to find Grace before Hoyt’s plans for her come to fruition. In the meantime, readers are delightfully tossed here and there by the devious twists and turns that Patterson and DuBois have created in this fast-moving, edge-of-your-seat story.

Once you start, there is no good place to stop, other than the very end. It is full of surprises, so much so that you’ll keep reading just to find the next one. Patterson and DuBois also pull off the neat trick of almost totally removing Grace from the story physically, even as she remains the focal point of it. You may want to read THE FIRST LADY twice --- first for the enjoyment, and then for the joy of figuring out how the authors did what they did.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 15, 2019

The First Lady
by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois