Blowback – James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

Blowback by James Patterson, Brendan DuBois
Also by this author: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The Horsewoman, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment
on September 12, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
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A brilliant American president is also a psychopath. He has his finger on the red button. And he’s about to start a world war with our most dangerous enemy. Put your finger on the 
 button. Push it to read James Patterson’s best and scariest novel yet. 
“Pure Patterson… Blowback asks us to imagine what would happen if a narcissistic psychopath were elected to the White House [and] to experience the terror of the world hanging in the balance at a moment when only a handful of determined patriots can save us.” –Ron Charles, Washington Post
US President Keegan Barrett has swept into office on his success as Director of the CIA. Six months into his first term, he devises a clandestine power grab with deadly consequences.    Barrett personally orders CIA agents Liam Grey and Noa Himel to execute his plan, but their loyalties are divided. The CIA serves at the pleasure of the president, yet they’ve sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.   When the threat comes directly from the Oval Office, that’s where the blowback begins.

James Patterson has written a lot of crap in his career. Blowback is not one of those books. The Trump presidency and the January 6th insurrection has left the country a lot to consider when it comes to having narcissistic and violent leaders. One of those questions is “What if the President was competent?” In Blowback, James Patterson and Brendan DuBois imagine a narcissistic US President who still acts like he’s the Director of the CIA. Keegan Barrett is no diplomat. Neither is he a general. He’s a mercenary spy who holds the highest office in the land and will use his power to make sure all of his enemies, both foreign and domestic, are taken down.

Barrett orders CIA operatives Liam Grey and Noa Himel to execute the plan and, at first and with only some reservations, they obey their commander-in-chief. But as things continue to escalate and they discover Barrett’s master plans, they find themselves faced between being following orders and being complicit in a moral atrocity. Grey and Himel fight back, taking on a President with no moral compunction and a belief that he can do whatever he wants without repercussion. The result is an intensely fast-paced thriller that sounds both over-the-top and terrifyingly real.

Fiction exists to tell stories that haven’t happened in reality. Fiction can play with extremes in safe ways, helping us explore what might happen if…and that’s exactly what DuBois and Patterson give us in Blowback. While dramas like House of Cards deliver us this message with nuance and as a slow-burn (that awful final season aside), Blowback is an adrenaline rush from beginning to end. Patterson’s written hundreds of novels and this is one of his best.