If Hope Never Dies does not win Best Humor in the Goodreads awards for 2018, I will never again be able to regard them as real awards. The plot and a lot of characters are pretty stereotypical for a mystery or buddy-cop adventure, but it’s a lot of fun, like one of those Obama-Biden memes novelized. Not much as a serious mystery, but really entertaining.
Think of the plot and main duo of any buddy-cop adventure: Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker (Rush Hour), Danny Glover and Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon), Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin (Hawaii Five-O), etc. Joe Biden is Steve/Riggs/Carter to Barack Obama’s Danno/Murtaugh/Lee. Joe is the slightly bumbling, mostly gung-ho one, and Obama is the more cautious thoughtful one. Amtrack Joe’s old pal, the conductor Finn, dies under questionable circumstances, and Joe is on the case, to bring closure to the family but also because since leaving office 6 months prior, he’s been having something of a personal crisis of what to do with himself who at one point during an argument with Obama and Steve says “I’m just some old bag of bones who’s seen too many episodes of Law and Order.” He is informed of the death by none other than his former partner in the White House, supposedly because Finn had Biden’s home address in his pocket when he died. Shenanigans ensure. The only other character who really does much is Steve, Obama’s Secret Service agent, who is (predictably) uptight and wanting his protectee to stay out of trouble, which naturally does not happen. Steve gets ditched and/or dragged along on most of the adventure. Little Beast participates enough to qualify as a character in the story, but that’s Obama’s tricked out Escalade. It turns out that an opioid ring might be involved, the local cops are either distrustful or untrustworthy (Biden gets told to stay out of the investigation more than once), and in the end, the bad guy was someone known and trusted by Joe the whole time.
The only major downside is that Michelle doesn’t make a personal appearance. Also, someone needs to give Steve a hug.
Everything is so exaggerated and stereotyped that there’s no way this is how Obama and Biden actually sound together, and there’s no way a bad guy gets hit by a train and survives long enough to try and shoot one of the heroes who survives thanks to a metal object he had in his pocket. The whole style and story is in the spirit of those Obama-Biden memes that were really popular in 2016-2017. I’m pretty sure I saw an interview with the author saying that his book wasn’t a parody of the detective adventure (but it is), and noting that he has actually met Biden but didn’t mention the book to him. I would really like to know what the real Biden and Obama think of this. I also hope there’s a sequel.