"[Hope Never Dies is] 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."—Alexandra Alter, New York Times
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama team up in this high-stakes thriller that combines a mystery worthy of Watson and Holmes with the laugh-out-loud bromantic chemistry of Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs.
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.
Part noir thriller and part bromance, Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fiction—and a cathartic read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.
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Read an Excerpt
The night this all started, I was in a black Irish mood.
And that was before I learned my friend was dead.
I was sitting at my computer, and I’d stumbled across one of those so-called paparazzi videos. It opened with a wide shot of Cape Town’s fabled Table Mountain. The camera panned down to the white-capped waves in the harbor. An impossibly long speedboat entered the frame, cutting through the surf like a buttered bullet. A parasailor trailed behind the boat, high in the sky, tethered to the stern by a thin rope. The camera zoomed in on the daredevil’s face, and I saw that my old friend Barack Obama was having the time of his life.
Unencumbered by his dead-weight loser vice president, 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 US president, he could survive anything.
Not that I was worried about him.
I was done getting all worked up over Barack Obama.
I forced myself to look away from the computer. I turned to face the dartboard on the back wall of my office. It was an old Christmas gift from my daughter. I’d kept it in storage for many years, but now I finally had some free time on my hands.
Maybe too much free time.
“One call,” I said to my faithful companion, Champ. “Is that too much to ask?”
The dog glanced up with indifference. He’d heard it all before.
“Just one phone call,” I said.
With a snap of the wrist, I sent the dart sailing across the room. It hit its mark, right between Bradley Cooper’s piercing blue eyes.
“Eight years.” I plucked the darts from the shredded magazine cover taped to the board. “And not even a gosh-darned postcard.”
Barack even had the gall to tell People magazine that we still went golfing together on occasion. To save face, I repeated the lie. The truth was, there hadn’t been any golf outings. No late-night texting. Not even a friendly poke on Facebook.
I watched the skies for smoke signals; I read the New York Times, dissecting headlines, looking for clues he might have left me. Nothing. Sometimes late at night, after Jill was sound asleep, I scrolled through the old text messages Barack and I had exchanged a lifetime ago. It was an exercise in futility. If I kept picking at the wound, it was never going to heal.
In the darkness outside my office window, I glimpsed a tiny flickering light.
I turned off my desk lamp to get a better look, and there it was again: a pinprick of orange light, like a firefly . . . or a cigarette.
A prowler? Maybe.
Only one way to find out.
“Let’s go, Champ.”
The dog’s ears perked up. I spun the dial on the small closet safe. There were two things inside: my Medal of Freedom. . . and my SIG Sauer pistol. The bean shooter was a gift I’d bought for myself, in spite of Jill’s objections. “Aren’t your shotguns enough?” she’d asked. “What on earth could you need a handgun for?”
For times like this, Jill.
I slipped the pistol into the waistband at the small of my back, then tucked my polo shirt over it.
I called to my wife, “I’m letting Champ out.” She didn’t answer back. I could hear the TV playing in our bedroom. Law and Order. I should have been watching with her. Instead I opened the back door.
As soon as I did, Champ raced across the lawn and tore off into the woods. The motion light over the back porch should have kicked on, but the bulb was burnt out.
It was an old one, I guess.
Old bulbs were meant to burn out.
The moon was full enough to light up the backyard. Our 7,000-square-foot lake house sat on four acres of property. Late at night, it was possible to imagine you were all alone in the world.
Tonight, however, I wasn’t alone.
Ahead in the woods was that pinprick of light.
And now I smelled tobacco, a familiar brand.
Don’t get your hopes up, I told myself. “Hope” is just a four-letter word.
I crossed the yard, walking to the spot where Champ had disappeared into the trees. At the edge of the clearing, I spied a vertically challenged man in a dark gray suit and matching tie. He had short, spiky hair, like he’d recently been discharged from the Marines and was letting it grow out. An earpiece wire disappeared into his collar. Secret Service.
My heart was beating faster than a dog licking a dish.
My own security detail had been dismissed several weeks earlier. Vice presidents were granted six months of protection following their time in office and not a day more unless there were extenuating circumstances.
“Nice night for a walk,” I said.
Secret Service nodded toward the woods, showing me the way. I ducked under a low-hanging branch and kept walking. The heavy foliage overhead diffused the moonlight. I had to tread carefully to avoid the underbrush. The smell of burning tobacco grew stronger. I called for Champ.
In response, I heard flint striking metal. A lighter, close by.
I swiveled around. There. To my left, by the big oak. Ten paces away. A man crouched low, scratching Champ behind the ears. German shepherds don’t take to strangers, but this man was no stranger.
He rose to his feet, a slim figure in his black hand-tailored suit. His white dress shirt was unbuttoned at the neck. He took a long drag off his cigarette and exhaled smoke with leisure. Barack Obama was never in a hurry.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I worried the whole book was just going to be one dumb joke but the author really put togeather a compelling story. The characters are well fleshed out and the stiry moves at a fast clip.
Sounded so much like Biden and Obama it could have been a real-life story. Love the tongue in cheek humor.
A whole lot of fun to read.
This parody of cozy mysteries is told from Joe Biden's point-of-view as he and Barack Obama chase down a killer. I loved it! I laughed so hard at times. Suspend belief but you have to read it. It was so much fun. I liked the characters. Watching them solve the crime is a scream. I liked how they view the current happenings in D.C. I felt bad when Joe had to change some of his idealistic beliefs about others. I hope there are more in this series. I adored it.
If you've wondered what Joe and Barack have been up to since leaving the presidential office or what might happen if they teamed up to solve mysteries, HOPE NEVER DIES is the book you never knew you always needed. Essentially Obama-Biden fanfic, this was such a fun ride. And honestly, reading it did give me hope. I mean. What if Obama and Biden really are out there fighting crime? Lord knows we could use their help. Just the thought of this being a possibility made me feel warm and fuzzy. Joe Biden serves as our narrator. His bromance with Obama has hit a few bumps in the road since they left office. He's not sure where he fits into Obama's post-presidential life and it was heartwarming and relatable to watch him make sense of it all. He's drawn deeper and deeper into the mysterious death of an Amtrak conductor he knew and Obama is at his side, both helping him and questioning why Joe wants to figure out what happened. Their interactions are so believable. I could see this happening in real life. It was interesting to think about how their relationship might change outside of the Oval Office and what their respective lives would look like. Shaffer clearly did his homework in bringing these two well-known men to life. At the same time, you can't be too tied to your ideas of who they are. There were small moments, like Obama smoking a cigarette or Biden thinking something racist, where I'd think, "they wouldn't do/say that!" But how can I say that for sure? I've never met either man and this is all a figment of Shaffer's imagination. (As far as we know.) The mystery itself was enjoyable to read. It had some interesting twists and turns and while I'd figured out the killer before they were revealed, it was much closer to the reveal than usually happens for me. I like when I'm kept guessing. I haven't heard whether this is the start of a series or not but I sure hope we'll get another Obama-Biden mystery, maybe from Obama's perspective next. In the meantime, I'm glad hope never dies when this duo is around. Disclosure: I received an advance copy from Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review.
Give this book a try. I smiled almost all the way through. Even the cover made me laugh!