“Amtrak Joe” Biden and President Obama Become Fiction’s Newest Detectives

Barack Obama and Joe Biden take a turn as a crime-fighting duo in this fictionalized story.

The premise of the book is preposterous: Barack Obama and Joe Biden as criminal investigators? That’s the new relationship writer Andrew Shaffer envisions for the former politicians in his new novel Hope Never Dies.  

Shaffer moves the politicians and pals into a “buddy detective” phase, working as amateur investigators in this comic mystery. The book’s humor is mostly witty banter, often between Obama and Biden. When Biden asks if Obama would ever run for office again, for instance, Obama answers no because of his wife, Michelle’s, objections.

“She said she’d smother me with pillow. Even showed me which one she’d use,” he says.    

Aside from the obvious character twist, the novel falls solidly in the mystery genre with a case to be solved by our politicians-turned-inspectors. The story begins months after the 2016 presidential election as former President Obama and Vice-President Biden have drifted apart and Joe misses their strong friendship. Even the late-night texts from Obama have stopped, disappointing Biden. And yet, mysteriously, late one night, a cigarette-smoking Obama visits Biden’s home to give him some bad news. An Amtrak conductor, Finn Donnelly, a man whom the former vice-president has known and befriended for years, had died early that morning in an accident that the police were now investigating.

Obama tells Biden his visit isn’t merely a condolence call but, rather, a security alert. He shows Joe Donnelly had his home pinpointed on a map, sparking law enforcement concern for the Biden family’s safety.  The former vice-president dismisses the safety concerns but is drawn into the questions surrounding of Finn’s death. Talking to the police, Biden learns police found Donnelly with heroin, which baffles Biden because he can’t believe Donnelly would use drugs. Joe even goes to Donnelly’s funeral and offers “to find the real truth about your father,” to his distraught daughter.

Being good to his word, Biden begins to follow through with a personal investigation, which leads to crossing paths with Obama again, as he checks on Biden. Then, the two team up to tackle the crime investigation and fulfill Biden’s “promise.”

New York Times best-selling author Shaffer’s novel is the first of “an Obama-Biden mystery” series.