In real life, politics often seem anything but thrilling. All those hearings, meetings, and debates. All those long, inscrutable bills and dry-as-dust governmental processes. Vital to a functioning government they may be, but they aren’t the sort of thing most people enjoy reading about at the beach or on a cozy evening in. Lucky for us, fiction, if not stranger than truth, is at least a lot more interesting.
Political thrillers take the seed of political reality and surround it with action-packed adventure, personal drama, and world-threatening conspiracies—everything that real politics generally lack. Some are even written by people with intimate knowledge of the political world. This offers readers a real insider’s look that makes the action all the more thrilling. If this sounds like something you’d like to sink your teeth into, then read on! These five political thrillers are just what you’re looking for to lend some spine-tingling excitement to your day.
by Bill Clinton
President Jonathan Duncan has been accused of a terrible crime: negotiating with and protecting the head of an international terrorist organization. With the speaker of the House breathing down his neck and only a tiny handful of staffers and aids that he can trust, Duncan is still determined to do right by the American people. He stands firm behind his actions, but national security prevents him from telling the world the entire story... and then President Duncan goes missing.
The President is Missing is written by veteran thriller writer James Patterson and former President Bill Clinton. By combining their areas of expertise, they have created an exciting, realistic tale unlike any other.
by Jake Tapper
Government in-fighting is nothing new. The 1950s were especially contentious, with Washington swallowed up by anti-communist hysteria and other forms of fear-mongering. The Hellfire Club, written by CNN's Jake Tapper, is set in 1954, right in the midst of this turbulent time. Charlie Marder, a World War II vet, and his zoologist wife Margaret come to Washington when Charlie is appointed to replace a recently deceased congressman. That congressman died under strange circumstances, and he will not be the last. The Marders quickly find themselves embroiled in a web of conspiracy and murder that may end Charlie's political career—to say nothing of his life—before it begins.
The Soviet Union and the United States have been political rivals since the end of the Second World War. The two nations have battled on many fronts, but, in this nail-biter by bestselling author Nelson DeMille, the Soviets have a deadly ace up their sleeve: a mole in the CIA. Known only as Talbot, the mole has waited long and plotted carefully. He is now ready to implement his plan, using modern technology to bring the entire Western world to its knees. Only Tony Abrams, a former New York cop and lawyer-in-training, stands between America and a Soviet takeover. Set in the 1980s, this look back at Cold War tensions still resonates in today's political environment.
With Brendan DuBois
Most political novels, like real-life politics, are dominated by men. The First Lady, written by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois, puts a welcome spotlight on the women who make Washington go round. When President Tucker is caught having an affair with a lobbyist, First Lady Grace Fuller Tucker vanishes from the public eye. But has she merely gone into hiding to deal with her husband's betrayal in private, or is there something more sinister afoot? That is what Sally Grissom, a Secret Service agent, is instructed to find out. And it isn't long at all before Sally finds herself in over her head. Things take a swift turn for the grisly in this most gripping of suspense action books.
By the Rivers of Babylon is another political-themed adventure from the imagination of Nelson DeMille. Two groups of people on two planes suddenly find themselves stranded in the middle of the desert. But these are no ordinary castaways: they were designated to meet at the United Nations and finally negotiate peace in the Middle East. Now, instead of fighting across a conference table, they must battle for their lives in a hostile climate while enemy combatants wage war against them. These groundbreaking peacemakers must become hardened warriors if they want to live—and even then, there is no guarantee of survival.
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Eileen Gonzalez is a freelance writer from Connecticut. She has a Master’s degree in communications and years of experience writing about pop culture. She contributes to Book Riot and Foreword Reviews, and she occasionally tweets at @eileen2thestars.