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State of Terror Summary: ‘Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny’ Duo Deserves a Standing Ovation

I have to admit. Hillary Clinton is as good a writer as a politician. NO CAPS.

People kept suggesting Hillary Clinton’s books to me. However, I was just not interested. But last week, when I spotted the State of Terror, a combined production of Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny, I could not resist.

And boy! I do not regret picking up that book.

State of Terror Summary

Of course, I was familiar with Penny’s work. I have read many novels from the famous Gamache series.

When reading this piece, I discovered a new shade of Penny. I would never have imagined that Penny could write political thrillers.

But there it was! Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny had successfully pulled off a perfectly flawless book!

Am I exaggerating? Well, read this State of Terror summary and decide for yourself. Don’t worry. I promise it is worth your time.

Synopsis of State of Terror: A Lot Is Going on in This Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton Book

State of Terror Book

Man! State of Terror is an entertainment package.

Political Thrillers are never my cup of tea. But it only took me a day to finish the 512-page heavy book. Yup, in this State of Terror summary I’m trying to bring the complete page-turner.

What’s so special in this novel? Why don’t we start from the very beginning?

New President in The House & A Series of Bombing

I don’t have to tell you how crazy the US Presidential Election gets. This is no less than a comedy-drama.

In State of Terror, the story takes place after Doug Williams was elected as US President. Guess who he has selected as Secretary of State? Ellen Adams.

She is the queen of the media empire. Surprisingly, during the election period, she campaigned against Dough.

So, why the hell has Mr. President chosen his enemy as his Secretary of State? Well, this is still a mystery.

Of course, when Ellen got the offer, she was also shocked. But she really didn’t care. This was her time to do something for her country.

Like any protagonist, Ellen stood up to her dreams, handing her media empire to her daughter, Katherine. Then, she invited her school-life best friend, Betsy, to join this roller coaster journey and be her counselor.

When running a state, you can only count on your best buddy.

Sure as hell that Mr. President does not like Ellen. He is looking for every opportunity to demean this lady. But guys, Ellen is our protagonist here. She will thrive no matter what!

Just after Dough and his selectives take over power, a series of bombings starts.

No! Not in the USA. But in London and Paris.

Ellen, along with Mr. President, attends virtual meetings with the heads of European countries. They start investigating the case, trying to make sense of these attacks. But by far, they have nothing. No one has come forward to take responsibility for the bombings yet.

What can be the motive? Is Al-Qaeda behind this facade? Why haven’t they claimed it, then? Or is this an act of a lone wolf?

They can all sense that something worse is approaching their way. But what?

Just a sidenote: For me, the basic premise of State of Terror is so… 2000’s. The novel begins with subtle Islamophobia. Reading it today felt a bit dated to me. In this day and age, we should be respectful to every religion out there and Islam is no different.

Finally! They Got a Clue!

When all the government heads are just sitting by, an FSO (foreign service officer), Anahita Dahir, gives them a big lead. She had received texts containing the exact information of the previous attacks.

That’s not all! As per the message, another bombing is on its way. This time, Frankfurt is in danger.

Ana doesn’t know what to do. She tries to connect to her supervisor but only gets cold looks. So, she gives it a last shot and calls her school life bully, Katherine, hoping she might help.

Honestly, Katherine gets suspicious at first. She has never been on good terms with this weirdo. And now, today, out of nowhere, she wants her help! How unusual does it sound? She can’t just allow everyone to meet her mom, the State Secretary.

But then again, can she afford the risk? Ana sounds desperate and genuine. So, here Katherine is, on the way to her mom’s office.

Ana somehow manages to convince Ellen that she is not lying. A bomb is set on a bus in Frankfurt, and it will go off within a few minutes.

I wish the situation were that simple.

Ellen is on the verge of a nervous breakdown when she finds out that Gil, her son (also Ana’s friend), is on the bus.

But wait! What the hell is Gil doing in Frankfurt? And how come he, the son of the Secretary of State, reached the bus? Are these all some coincidence?

Thank God! Ellen alerted Gil on time, and he somehow escaped the attack.

With her officials (and, of course, with Betsy, Baynton, Katherine, and Ana), Ellen rushes to Germany. They must dig deeper into these incidents.

By now, every intelligence officer is suspecting Ana. How the hell did she get the tip? What makes her so unique? Is she linked to these bombings?

The answers are yet to unfold. In the meantime, one video footage confirmed that Gil was not the only survivor of this attack. The bomber escaped after setting up the explosion.

It means if they can get a hold of this man, they will surely get some answers.

Synopsis of State of Terror

Now, It’s Time to Spill Out the Beans

Gil, lying in the hospital bed, tries to help as much as he can. He followed a nuclear physicist to the bus. The incident made him realize that Dr. Bashir Shah, a legendary figure for the terrorist, has some links to these bombings. If his assumption is correct, something bigger than 9/11 is on the way to the USA.

But how could he be involved? Wasn’t he in a house arrest?

As the story unfolds, truths come out.

Former President Eric Dunn intentionally or unintentionally released Shah. Now, this top-level terrorist is literally giving away nuclear weapons like Robin Hood. God knows what he has planned.

We can handle Shah later. First, let’s focus on capturing the bomber and solving this “Ana” riddle for now.

Intelligence officers have done a fantastic job locating the bomber, and they are already on their way to arrest him. But that is a dead end. So, now, grilling Ana is the only option they have. Hopefully, her answers can help them get a lead.

Well, Ana is literally living a life of secrets. She is Iranian by birth, and her uncle is a famous nuclear physicist. Is it possible that Iran is behind all these bombings? Soon, the possibility becomes a certainty, and in the end, they are sure that Iran has done this job.

But there is a piece that needs to be included. The warning texts Ana received were from her cousin Zahara. Why would Zaraha go against her country? The answers are in Iran.

Ellen must fly there now. She takes Ana, Katherine, and Baynton with her and wants Betsy on another task in America.

Ellen thinks Tim Beecham, the Director of National Intelligence, has something to do with these bombings. He significantly influenced former President Dunn and might have helped in Shah’s release.

Betsy must go deeper into Tim.

On The Hunt for A Lead

Iran’s President makes it very clear that they indeed initiated the attacks. But this was more of a revenge. His Government tried reaching out to Dunn’s people, begging them not to release Shah. But Dunn pays them no heed.

The attacks targeted Shah’s assets so that his master plans could not see the light of day. According to them, they have successfully ruined Shah’s goal (How naive)!

Ellen is forced to return to the USA, leaving the gang behind. She has a gut feeling that Iran’s Government heads are not entirely transparent. Katherine and Baynton can really give her some closure.

Meanwhile, Gil starts digging for more information on Shah. He escapes the hospital and travels to the Pakistani border to meet his informant.

On the other hand, Betsy reaches out to General Whitehead and discusses the traitor. Surprisingly, this General agrees with her. He, too, is suspicious of Tim.

Soon, Betsy realizes she must find an insider from the previous Government. Call her lucky that she gets Pete Hamilton on her team. This young man was thrown out of the Parliament for nothing.

You can only guess how much Pete hates Dunn and his Government. So, he is all in on the plan.

But God! Their investigation turns into a dangerous turn. They have just found out that Whitehead is the traitor, not Tim.

Put All the Pieces Together

Of course, Whitehead denies all the allegations. He keeps blaming Tim for framing him. In fact, Whitehead gets so aggressive that he breaks Tim’s nose and puts him in the hospital.

Ellen receives messages from Gil and Katherine. Shah has planned bombings in the USA, too, and the White House is somehow linked to all these attacks.

So, Ellen thinks it is best if she and Betsy fly to Pakistan and talk with the Prime Minister. Who knows, they might find a break.

The Pakistan tour was a hit. Come on! Ellen encounters Shah face-to-face. But she recognizes him when it is too late, and Shah is out of the country.

But there it is. Another code! This overconfident bastard thinks he is better than anyone, and no one can catch him.

Shah underestimated Gil, Katherine, Baynton, Zahara, and Ana. They have decoded the text, and it is nothing but the time the bomb will go off. Now that they know the time of the blast, they must figure out where the explosives are placed.

Only on threat, the Pakistani Prime Minister told them about the involvement of the Russian mafia with Shah’s plan.

Now, Ellen flies to Moscow to meet this notorious leader. After a steaming session, that man blurbs out Shah’s stay.

Ellen has almost reached her goal. She has found out the time of the bombing and Shah’s location. It is only a matter of time before they can detect where the bombs are set.

In the middle of this chaos, Betsy receives a text from Pete: ‘HLI.’ Though Betsy initially thinks of it as a typo, she soon figures out her mistake. Pete was killed right after he had sent this message. It means he was trying to say something important to them.

Ellen has a fair idea of what HLI is. A few years back, a journalist claimed that HLI is a secret chamber in the White House. But he could not prove anything, and no one knew where that man was hiding now.

Ellen feels helpless. She has all the major information. But still, some pieces are missing.
Where will be the next attack? What is the bombing connection to the White House? And how is HLI connected to the whole scene?

Ellen runs to the White House as the clock is ticking off. She can sense that the end is approaching.

State of Terror Ending Explained

The officers can arrest Shah and bring him to the Oval Office. Mr President demands the locations of the bombs, and Shah gives him nothing.

Just when you think Ellen has come to a dead end, the writers add another twist to the plot.

Both Tim and Whitehead enter the room, and Mr. President charges Tim with treachery. He has framed Whitehead, after all. Now, they know Tim and Shah are working together to destroy this Government.

Even with all these back-and-forth blaming, Shah or Tim refuses to say a word about where the bomb is set. The only thing that can save them now is Pete’s clue. Yes, HLI (High-Level Informant).

Whitehead is a friend of Gamache (Yup, you will catch a glimpse of this legend in this book). So, he pulls off Gamache’s contact and reaches that journalist. The information leads them to a dark website showing the locations of the bombs.

And guess what? One explosion is set right in the White House.

I said before that Ellen is the star of this novel. She knew things could go wrong. So, she asked Betsy to call the emergency if the situation went south.

And just like any best buddy would do, Betsy informs the Vice President. She saves the country from a devastating nuclear attack.

Yes, it feels like a deserving win. However, Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton have left some loose ends in the end. It means there might be another book coming in this series. If it’s true, then I am sure you are buying this one after reading the ending and State of Terror summary.

State of Terror Characters Analyzed!

In the State of Terror book, you will never for once feel any character out of place. Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton have done a tremendous job shaping each face.

State of Terror Characters

Let’s talk about the people of this novel.

Ellen Adams

We have seen Hillary Clinton acing her hole as a Secretary of State. You will surely catch her reflection in Ellen Adams. The level of dedication this lady has shown in the novel is rare.

Ellen sets a bold statement at the very beginning of the book. She doesn’t give a damn about her appearance or what people think about her. Instead, she is here to run the country, which all matters to her.

This woman has proven her visionary ability throughout the book. At many points, I thought she could read minds. She gambled in all situations, and every time, she won. How brilliant does that sound?

I can’t help but appreciate her courage. Ellen was fierce and stood by in her position even when she knew danger was lingering in the air. This is the Secretary of State that we all deserve.

Betsy & Pete

Umm… Betsy’s character was on point. She had the humor and eye for details, a perfect counselor for the Secretary of State.

In many reviews, readers have tagged Betsy as unnecessary. But hey! Remember that she has played a significant role in solving the chaos.

As for Pete, I felt our writers didn’t do justice to the character. He died too soon. I would appreciate it if Pete was still alive to see the win.

General Whitehead & Mr. President

Initially, I was curious to know if this President was of any good. I hate to admit it. But he is a real hero.

Of course, Mr. President was neglected throughout the book. He got most of the attention in the last few chapters and killed it. His sync and acting rehearsal with General Whitehead was too good.

I genuinely liked Whitehead’s character. The way he had performed his part was worth the appreciation. I hope you see more of this character in future books.

Other Characters

There’s no side character in the State of Terror book. Each face has a role to play.

Gil, Katherine, Baynton, Ana, and Zahara were almost dead collecting information. You can’t just ignore them.

However, I couldn’t be happier with Bashir Shah’s character. Come on! He is the main villain. There needs to be more insight into his personality.

And lastly, the glimpse of Gamache in the book made my day. This legendary officer helped stop the bomb indirectly. I am too happy for this cameo.

See Relevant: How The Light Gets in Summary

Should You Read the State of Terror?

This synopsis of State of Terror is a hot cake for you if you are a fan of political fiction. As I said, I barely read political thrillers, but this book was something different. There is suspense and twists on every other page.

After finishing the book, I instantly thought, “This should be a movie.” And see? There is already news that the State of Terror might get into production soon. I hope the book adaptation will not disappoint us (like always).