Starting Hope Rides Again: Obama Biden Mysteries #2 by Andrew Shaffer right after Election Day was celebratory. And more than a little bittersweet. With Joe Biden now the U.S. President-Elect Shaffer most likely won’t write another of these quirky mysteries. At least not for several years.

Set nine months before the 2019 Iowa Primary election, Biden is still galivanting about without a Secret Service detail. He stops in Chicago to meet a guy, at the behest of former President Obama. They’re all attending a conference together and plan to connect in a “Green Room.” This being where event speakers gather their last thoughts, swig some water, and peruse their digital devices. All before going on stage to give a rousing presentation. And it’s here that Obama loses his beloved Blackberry. (Hasn’t he upgraded to a more current device yet?)

Biden sets out to help Obama out and find the missing device. That’s his hope, at least. In the meantime, the plot thickens, and a young Chicagoan connected to the President is shot. That only increases the stakes, and Biden’s desire to figure the situation out without involving Obama. And in perfect Shaffer fashion, nothing goes as planned. For one thing, Obama does get involved, along with Steve, his Secret Service guy. 

These two former elected officials going rogue is only possible in the author’s imagination, but that’s what happens. And lucky us, there’s even an appearance from Michelle Obama. She’s trying to keep Joe on the straight and narrow, so he makes it home to Jill.

My conclusions

This book was the perfect ray of hope in the midst of election uncertainties, and a book about strongmen that made me lose sleep. It’s also an interesting foil to A Promised Land, the recently released memoir from President Obama that’s currently in my ears.

Shaffer’s funny asides about whether the former V.P. will run for President seem prescient in light of Biden’s choices. The way he captures the interplay between these two famous figures is brotherly and mostly lighthearted. And of course, Obama gets frustrated by the gaffes and not brilliant decisions happening in Joe’s orbit.

Shaffer balances his political and character asides with solid action and a generous helping of mystery. And no one else could be the guys in these “detective” roles. I’ve enjoyed this short two book series for its originality and tongue-in-cheek humor.

I recommend if you need a dose of fun, even as life in America feels pretty dark. Definitely read both books in order, starting with Hope Never Dies. And consider pairing it with something more historic or political.