Book Number: 1
Read this book for: satire, political satire, humour, noir, buddy detectives, amateur detectives
Quick Review: Ridiculous, over the top fun that reads as a tongue-in-cheek love letter to Obama and Biden, this novel actually has relatively good noir mystery chops.
Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted: the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.
A ridiculous but fun piece of crime-based humour, HOPE NEVER DIES turns former Vice-President of the United States Joe Biden into a man on a mission to discover the truth behind the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of longtime Amtrak train conductor and friend, Finn Donnelly.
This book was actually shelved in the “comedy” section of my local bookstore, which might tell you how seriously this book should be taken. It’s a romp through Delaware led by Joe Biden, who is painted as missing his best friend Barack Obama, a bit aging and out of shape but willing nonetheless to get into dangerous situations. Not action heroes, Biden and Obama are placed in a few action situations to excellent comic effect.
Despite the fact that it is genuinely funny in several places, Shaffer actually sticks to the noir feel very well during the whole book. With different lead characters, this could genuinely be the story of a hard-bitten, world-weary gumshoe on the trail of the latest nefarious criminal, doing a private investigation. Shaffer should be applauded for that sense of atmosphere, and managing to walk the line between noir and the comedy of the Biden/Obama pairing.
Shaffer has also constructed a solid mystery plot, with a few good twists and turns, and enough interesting clues and discoveries to keep most mystery readers happy. While it is not Holmes or Christie, I have read other thrillers and mysteries with less plot than this — it is actually a decent read just for the crime narrative alone!
HOPE NEVER DIES is definitely worth picking up; while your enjoyment may be affected by your personal politics, the mystery plot and noir feel are very well done, and Joe Biden and Barack Obama are a detective team that make for excellent comic moments.