Along came James Patterson – and Bill Clinton

James Patterson and Bill Clinton. Photograph by David Burnett.

With scores of novels penned over the last five decades, chances are pretty high that you’ve read one or several of the books by the prominent and popular author James Patterson.

At this point in his career, it’s hard to say which individual novel or series of novels — Alex Cross and “Women’s Murder Club” are among his most famous — would be our favorites. Perhaps, for the younger crowd, it’s the “Middle School Series,” which, on its own, represents nearly 40 novels. Since leaving the advertising world in the late 1970s, he has delighted readers with his quick-moving reads and compelling characters, earning him a further accolade, the world’s best-selling author. 

Patterson is about to become even more successful, if that’s possible. He and President Bill Clinton have teamed for Clinton’s first foray into fiction, “The President Is Missing” (Hachette Book Group/ Little Brown and Co./Alfred A. Knopf, $30.) Available June 4, the book is already on several “50 Most Anticipated Books of 2018” lists.

The pair will hit the road to promote it, first on June 3 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan as part of “Bookcon 2018” and then at Barnes & Noble Eastchester at 7 p.m.  June 19. 

“This novel will take you right into the White House,” Patterson says in a book trailer released on YouTube featuring the two authors. “(It) will make you feel the impossible decisions, the stress, the dangers out there in today’s world and the importance of the American presidency.” 

It’s a subject Clinton knows only too well.

“Being president is a profound honor,” says the 42nd American president and Chappaqua resident, whose autobiography, “My Life,” was a number one best seller. “But it can also be the most difficult job in the world because every day means something new, and it’s not all good (cue the Bill chuckle).” 

The Clinton-Patterson pairing marks the first time a president has teamed with a best-selling author.

Indeed, Patterson is so popular that the game show “Jeopardy” recently ran a whole category of clues about him, and an interesting bit of trivia came out of that. While still in his advertising career at J. Walter Thompson in Manhattan — he started as a copywriter and left as CEO — Patterson coined the slogan, “I don’t want to grow up. I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.” Sadly, this iconic brand, the biggest toy seller in the 1990s, has filed for bankruptcy and is currently liquidating all its U.S. stores, but it did enjoy a catchy jingle thanks to him. 

Born and raised in Newburgh, Patterson has taken his readers on a literary adventure from the onset of his career, publishing his first novel in 1976 with Little, Brown and Co. “The Thomas Berryman Number.” After being rejected by more than 30 publishers, it went on to win the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1977. Another of his more popular works, “Along Came a Spider,” came along to bookstores — you remember those — in 1993, the first to feature the character Alex Cross, the famed Washington, D.C.-based FBI agent and psychologist. That novel was adapted into a 2001 film of the same name starring Morgan Freeman. 

And now we have “The President is Missing,” which takes place over three days in Washington D.C., and, spoiler alert, features a president who has gone missing.

In addition to identifying as an author, Patterson has proudly added the title philanthropist to his personal byline. The Patterson Family Foundation and Patterson personally have donated millions of books and dollars to our nation’s educators, grammar and secondary schools, colleges and universities, literacy programs and independent bookstores. His philanthropy earned him the National Book Foundation’s 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. 

Patterson and his family have called Briarcliff Manor and West Palm Beach, Florida, home when he’s not on the road promoting his books. There are seven more hitting shelves before year’s end, across all of his series with various collaborations. And that’s welcome news to fans who hope the author will be intriguing them for years to come.

Which leaves us begging the question:  Will we see a sequel to “The President is Missing” from these two powerhouse collaborators? Time will tell.

Admission to the Bill Clinton-James Patterson event at 7 p.m. June 19 at Barnes & Noble Eastchester will be by a limited number of wristbands, distributed to purchasers of the book starting at 9 a.m. on the day of the signing. For more, visit barnesandnoble.com.

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