Hope Rides Again (Obama Biden Mystery #2), by Andrew Shaffer
Having read the previous volume in this series , I had a good idea of what to expect in this particular series, which is clearly written by someone who is nostalgic for the Obama administration and yet who feels it necessary to address the corruption that can be found in contemporary cities, even if the writer is not honest or insightful enough to recognize this as a characteristic problem with the corruption of the Democratic party and their misguided policy goals. Be that as it may, this book views such corruption as merely part of the context of a place like Chicago that allows for plenty of adventure for Biden and Obama to solve in their unusual private sleuthing in which they use their mental acuity and nonverbal communication in order to solve problems that are too delicate to be dealt with via official means. Given the material in this book, it seems likely that the author will allow for some of Biden’s gaffes (which are lovingly commented on here at least in part) to encourage the reader to cheer on his election campaign, which is about to begin as this book ends.
This book is in general a poignant one, as it reflects on a weekend that Biden spends in Chicago at the invitation of former president Obama, relating to some conference that Obama is involved in. While Biden tries to stave off boredom and fears for competition regarding his decision about whether or not he wants to run for president, he finds himself caught up in the search for Obama’s Blackberry phone, which leads to the shooting of a young man, and then the question of the corruption of the police and the city of Chicago as a whole and the possible involvement of a religious figure that Obama views highly. The author, in showing the political corruption of the Chicago machine, seeks to distance it from the behavior of Obama and Biden and even Rahm Emmanuel themselves, all of whom are characters who are viewed by the author as being on the right side. If this is not a wholeheartedly successful effort, the end result is that justice prevails through some swift thinking by both Obama and Biden and Biden returns home committed to running for president while Obama seeks to use his influence for the better and Chicago is portrayed as being both corrupt, but also not corrupt thanks to the political leadership of the Democrats themselves, which is an act of fraud that we can expect from this series as a whole.
How you feel about this novel will depend in large part on how you feel about Obama and Biden in general. The author has a fondness for both men (more fondness than I have) but he views them as human beings who are subject to foibles and follies. Indeed, the author has a sly look even at himself in which he refers to a pot boiler mystery novel having been written about Biden that Biden himself dismisses as a terrible genre work. In reading this book I find it interesting how the author has framed the character of both Obama and Biden by pointing out Biden’s insecurity with regards to his former commander-in-chief as well as his lack of ability in lying, which seems particularly rich given Biden’s massive amount of family grifting and influence peddling. It is striking that Biden claims a high degree of family loyalty (which I can believe) but which scarcely mentions his own family apart from his wife, which is all the more striking when one thinks about how many of his own relatives bring him embarrassment due to their corruption. If I am by no means a supporter of Biden, I can see how these mysteries subtly undercut the urban politics of the Democratic party themselves.