There certainly is no shortage of books by and about politicians these days–be they memoirs, analyses, or biographies. So it’s fun to step back and enjoy a fun novel about some of these figures. The Obama-Biden mystery series by Andrew Shaffer, with two books so far, are fun stories featuring these storied figures as main characters.
In Hope Never Dies (2018), Finn Donnelly, an Amtrak conductor and friend of Joe’s is dead. His remains are found on railroad tracks. Was it an accident, a suicide, or a murder? As the story unfolds the reader learns more about Finn, his sick wife, his financial woes, and his connection to a motorcycle gang dealing drugs. The former vice president no longer has secret service protection but the former president does. Joe, Barack, and Secret Service officer Steve work to solve the mystery.
In Hope Rides Again (2019), we find Joe, Barack, and Steve all in the Obama hometown of Chicago. Obama’s foundation is working hard to make a difference in the lives of young Chicagoans. Joe makes acquaintance with a young man at one of the foundation’s programs. Soon, though, the young man is embroiled in violence and scandal that exposes a seedier side of Chicago that runs the gamut of Chicago’s power structures. This book features cameo appearances from several other figures from the Obama administration, including Michelle Obama and Rahm Emanuel.
Fictional forms of political figures aren’t exactly uncommon–whether it’s TV’s The West Wing (1999-2006), a fully fictionalized world that mirrored real-life figures and events; an anonymously published novel Primary Colors (1996) which fictionalizes the 1992 presidential campaign; or books like Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife (2008) and Rodham (2020), novels about Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, respectively. These, though, tend to be serious analyses or treatises with occasional moments of levity. Andrew Shaffer’s Obama-Biden Mysteries are the exact opposite–silly, over-the-top, and fun.
It’s fun to witness the relationship between Joe and Barack in these stories. Joe is definitely in charge of the investigation I am curious if Joe Biden and Barack Obama have read the books and, if so, what they think of them.