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An Obama/Biden Caper You Could Not Have Imagined

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Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer (Quirk Books), a work of fiction, may bring tears to your eyes. Yes, it’s that good of a whodunit, with its plot tied up neatly with no loose ends. You may laugh until you cry because this book is that funny. But mostly, you may weep with joy for reuniting with a couple of old friends you’ve missed so much.

Image courtesy of amazon.com

Hope Never Dies’s leading characters actually were leaders of a different sort from 2009 to 2017: Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Now they’re together again in a rollicking, wise-cracking buddy caper.

Just a few months after he’s left his vice presidential office, Joe Biden is trying his best to become suburban Joe, laying tile in his master bath, getting a little flabby, and hanging out with his dog, Champ. He’s also a little bitter.

“Unencumbered by his dead-weight loser vice president,” sulks Biden, “44 was on the vacation to end all vacations. Windsurfing on Richard Branson’s private island. Kayaking with Justin Trudeau. BASE jumping in Hong Kong with Bradley Cooper. Barack wasn’t simply tempting the fates – he was daring them. And why not? If he could survive eight long years as the first black president, he could survive anything.”

One night, Biden’s negative self-talk is interrupted by a clandestine visit from the POTUS 44 himself and his omnipresent Secret Service agent.

“You could have called,” says Joe.

“It was a nice night for a drive,” says Barack.

But the purpose of the visit is to deliver bad news. A long-time friend of Biden’s is dead. Finn Donnelly was a railroad conductor on the train that Amtrak Joe rode thousands of times from Wilmington to Washington and his seat in the U.S. Senate. Run over by an Acela Express, Donnelly had a map to Biden’s house on his desk, a faded “Biden for President” bumper sticker on his car, and a packet of heroin in his pocket.

Biden decides he owes it to his friend (a family man, a proud railroader, and not a likely drug abuser) to uncover the suspicious circumstances of his death. Obama (code name: Renegade) agrees to help him, and together, they follow a trail of clues in Biden’s Challenger, or in Obama’s weaponized “Little Beast” SUV, while trying to keep below the radar of police investigators and the press.

From melees in biker bars to sleepovers in seedy motels, the action moves quickly (yes, there’s a car chase), seasoned with ongoing riffs involving Biden’s unrequited bromance, Obama’s low regard for Biden’s fitness regime, and the omnificent machinations of government institutions.

Is Hope Never Dies the first of a series? One can only hope. As Obama said during his 2008 campaign as quoted in this book, “As long as you have hope, you’re still in the game.”

Hope Never Dies will be available to purchase July 10.


Andrew Shaffer has made a career of poking fun at sacred cows. His previous titles include the satirical thriller The Day of the Donald: Trump Trumps America (Crooked Lane Books); Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: A Parody (Da Capo Press/Hachette Books), and Ain’t Got Time to Bleed: Realistic Medical Reports on Hollywood’s Greatest Action Heroes (Insight Editions/Simon & Schuster.)

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Joanna Poncavage had a 30-year career as an editor and writer for Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine and The (Allentown, Pennsylvania) Morning Call newspaper. Author of several gardening books, she’s now a freelance journalist.

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