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State of Terror


State of Terror

Fasten your seat belts, folks. You’re in for a nonstop rollercoaster of a read with STATE OF TERROR. The pairing of one of the world’s most popular mystery authors with a former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State is the political thrill-ride feast of the year.

Following a brutal campaign, newly elected President Douglas Williams appoints Ellen Adams to be his Secretary of State. As CEO of a major media conglomerate that had been hostile to Williams during the election, the news of her appointment rocks the DC politicos and pundits, filling political talk shows for weeks. Is he following in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln by "assembling a team of rivals"? Or (more likely) is he looking to Sun Tzu, the ancient military strategist, to “keep his friends close, and his enemies closer”?

"The pairing of one of the world’s most popular mystery authors with a former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State is the political thrill-ride feast of the year."

Ellen stuns the President by accepting the challenge, which means stepping down and turning her broadcast empire over to her daughter. She had watched as America’s diplomatic status in international affairs declined under former President Eric Dunn, nicknamed “Eric the Dunce” by his detractors. There is no doubt that she is qualified for the job, considering she has rubbed elbows and covered events with world leaders around the globe for years. But would she bow to Williams’ directives and follow his agenda? Clearly he does not know Ellen Adams.

The new Secretary of State is not that impressed with President Williams, but he’s a definite improvement over his predecessor. She has observed America’s decline in international diplomacy over the last four years as the race is on in Middle Eastern countries to develop nuclear weapons with aid from Russian mob money in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. While “the Dunce” appointed loyalists, then fired them when they didn’t follow his lead, America’s role in global affairs had diminished to the point of near non-existence. As Secretary of State, Ellen sets out to reassert US dominance on the world stage.

Three sequential bus bombings kill dozens on crowded London, Paris and Frankfurt streets on the same day. They appear to be aimed at Pakistani nuclear scientists aboard each bus. Anahita Dahir, a young Pakistani aide in the State Department, had received a coded message on the day of the bombings containing a puzzling string of numbers and letters from an email address she did not recognize. She was advised by a supervisor to SPAM them, an order that she obeyed, though she copied down the message. But why her? Who sent them? Unscrambling the code would save an important life, leading to the discovery of three hidden nuclear devices (one within the White House) and a mole in the new administration.

As events unfold, Ellen and her aides --- including her personal advisor, Betsy Jameson --- find themselves traveling the globe in an exhausting and exhilarating adventure to prevent a nuclear disaster.

Hillary Rodham Clinton brings her personal, in-the-room observations during some of America’s darkest moments, adding heart-pounding, breathtaking reality to the white-knuckle events. Louise Penny showcases her inimitable mystery plotting skills, pacing and droll wit, with a tip of the hat to Three Pines fans. This winning combination elevates STATE OF TERROR far beyond a typical political thriller, making it one of my most memorable reads of 2021.

This quote by Tom Peters, which appears at the start of the book, pretty much sums it up: “The most amazing thing that has happened in my lifetime is neither putting a man on the moon nor Facebook having 2.8 billion monthly active users. It is that in the 75 years, 7 months, and 13 days since Nagasaki, a nuclear bomb has not been detonated.”

Reviewed by Roz Shea on October 21, 2021

State of Terror
by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny