Obama, Biden imagined as crime fighters
Book aims to appeal to liberals missing ex-leaders
In the year and a half since Barack Obama left office, dozens of books have been written about his administration, including memoirs by his official photographer, stenographer, speechwriter, communications director, foreign policy advisers and director of national intelligence, not to mention the Obamas’ own forthcoming memoirs.
But only one book includes a scene where Obama bursts into a motorcycle gang clubhouse in Delaware, casually toting a sawed-off shotgun, to rescue Joe Biden from a mob of angry, heavily armed bikers.
“Looks like you all know who my pal is,” Biden tells his antagonists with satisfaction.
“He’s the guy who killed bin Laden,” one of the stunned bikers says.
The unlikely scenario sprung from the twisted mind of Andrew Shaffer, author of Hope Never Dies, a new mystery novel starring the 44th president and his vice president as a pair of crime-busting
amateur sleuths. It’s the first in a planned crime series, with Obama playing a cerebral, detached, analytical Holmes to Biden’s bumbling, impulsive Watson.
The novel, out this week, is a roughly 300-page work of political fanfiction, an escapist fantasy that will likely appeal to liberals pining for the previous administration, longing for the Obama-Biden team to emerge from political retirement as action heroes. But it’s also at times a surprisingly earnest story about estranged friends who are reunited under strange circumstances.
“It’s not a parody of action movies or thrillers, and it’s not a satire of their politics. It’s just a mystery novel starring these two well-known characters, who just happen to be in the public domain,” said Shaffer, who has written cheeky satires like The Day of the Donald: Trump Trumps America.
It’s turning out to be a big summer for mysteries written by, or starring, former Democratic presidents. The President Is Missing, a political thriller former President Bill Clinton wrote with James Patterson, which features a fictional president confronting a cyberterrorism plot. Now, in Hope Never Dies, a fictional version of an actual former president confronts another pressing national problem, the opioid crisis.
The novel opens with Biden staring at his computer, stewing over paparazzi images of Obama parasailing off the coast of Cape Town. Like a jealous ex, he’s furious that Obama has cast him aside to pursue flashy leisure activities with his new celebrity best friends — BASE jumping with Bradley Cooper, kitesurfing in the British Virgin Islands with Richard Branson, kayaking with Justin Trudeau. “Eight years,” he mutters to his German shepherd, Champ, “And not even a gosh darned postcard.”
When Biden goes to investigate a flickering light he sees outside, he finds Obama lurking in the shadows, smoking a cigarette. Obama has come with grim news: Biden’s favorite Amtrak conductor, Finn Donnelly, was found dead on the train tracks outside of Wilmington station, with a bag of heroin in his pocket. They decide to crack the case themselves.
Shaffer said the opening scene came to him in the weeks after Obama left office, when cable news anchors and late-night hosts broadcast images of Obama on what looked like an endless global vacation. “I was like, you know who would be mad about this? Joe Biden. He’s not out there windsurfing with Obama. Someone else is,” he said. “It felt like he was auditioning for a new best friend. There has to be a misunderstanding for a buddy comedy to work.”
‘It’s not a parody of action movies or thrillers,’ Hope Never Dies author Andrew Shaffer says.