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Bill Clinton and author James Patterson team up again for political thriller

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NEW YORK — After co-writing the best-selling adult novel of 2018, Bill Clinton and James Patterson have teamed up for another political thriller.

“The President's Daughter" will be released in June 2021, the book's publishers announced Thursday. As with the million-selling “The President Is Missing,” the new novel will be a rare joint release by rival companies: Alfred A. Knopf, which has released Clinton's “My Life” among other works, and Little, Brown and Company, Patterson's longtime publisher.

“I never imagined I’d be writing a book with a master storyteller like Jim, much less two," Clinton said in a statement. “I was grateful for the success of the first book, and I believe readers will enjoy reading ‘The President's Daughter' as much as I’m enjoying working on it.”

Added Patterson, one of the world's best-selling and most prolific authors: “Working with President Clinton has been a highlight of my career, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to write with him again.”

Clinton and Patterson will give interviews for the book, although specific plans are undetermined, in part because of uncertainty about the endurance of the coronavirus pandemic. “The President's Daughter” is not a sequel to “The President Is Missing,” but a stand-alone novel with new characters, albeit one with a familiar occupation.

“It follows a former president of the United States, now relocated to rural New Hampshire, whose daughter is kidnapped,” the publishers announced. “Like their earlier book, the story will be told with Patterson’s signature suspense and will be informed by details that only a president can know.”

According to an excerpt from the novel being released next week along with a paperback edition of “The President Is Missing,” a motivation for the kidnappers is retaliation for U.S. drone strikes overseas against suspected foes. Drones have long been used for surveillance, but armed drones date back to the administration of Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, and were expanded significantly under President Barack Obama.

“For years,” one of the kidnappers thinks, “the West has used these drones to rain down hell fire upon his friends, his fighters, and, yes, his family and other families. Fat and comfortable men (and women!) sipping their sugary drinks in comfortable chairs in safety, killing from thousands of kilometers away, seeing the silent explosions but not once hearing them, or hearing the shrieking and crying of the wounded and dying, and then driving home without a care in the world.”

The first book by Clinton and Patterson sold more than 3 million copies even as Clinton initially faced renewed questions in the #MeToo era over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. “The President Is Missing” focused on a potentially devastating cyber attack, but also briefly referred to impeachment proceedings, a reminder of Clinton's being impeached in 1998 after his relationship with Lewinsky was revealed.

The plot for “The President's Daughter” would seem uncomfortable for Clinton, who has a daughter, Chelsea. “This novel is completely and fully fiction,” says Washington, D.C. attorney Robert Barnett, who handles book deals for Clinton and Patterson.

“The President's Daughter” is a reunion for the authors and for the book's editors: Michael Pietsch, the CEO of Little, Brown parent company Hachette Book Group, and Knopf publisher and executive vice president Reagan Arthur, the former publisher of Little, Brown. In January, Arthur joined Knopf after the death of its longtime chairman, Sonny Mehta, who worked with Pietsch on “The President Is Missing.”

Financial terms for “The President's Daughter” were not disclosed. Clinton and Patterson were represented by Barnett and Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly. The initial pairing of Clinton and Patterson was suggested by Barnett, according to the two authors, each of whom expressed surprise the other wanted to work with him.

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