I don’t think the problem is that this isn’t a good book, I think it’s more that it really just isn’t my cup of tea. I kind of had a feeling this would be true, but it was at the library and it sounded like it could be fun so I gave it a go. I’m glad I did, I think this was a fun idea for the author to try, but if this ends up being a series I’ll probably stop here, because it didn’t quite click for me personally.
Joe Biden is bored and cranky. He hasn’t heard from his supposed BFF Barack since they both left office, instead he has watched him jet-set around the world with a string of new celebrity buddies. Meanwhile, Joe is at home throwing darts at a picture of Bradley Cooper. Then, one evening Barack shows up and tells Joe about something weird happening in the case of an apparent suicide of an Amtrak train conductor that Joe knew well during his years in the Senate the potentially connects Joe to a death that is starting to smell awfully fishy. There is nothing else for the two to do than drag Secret Service Agent Steve along for the ride while they try to sort out what actually happened to the conductor.
This should have been a lot of fun. I generally don’t like when real people are used in fictional stories, but this seemed nonsensical and silly enough that it could work. Unfortunately the author has made Joe extremely bitter, angry and dour. It gets old really fast. Seriously, I spent half the book thinking to myself, “Jesus, just get this shit off your chest or let it go already. You’re whining like a 13-year-old.”
Barack is kind of one dimensional as well, while his intelligence and ability to retain a ridiculous amount of information are intact here, none of his charm and charisma carry through except for when we are being told he is charismatic, rather than being shown he is. this Barack is emotionally tone deaf and kind of superficial. Maybe the real guy is, but that is never what has carried through in his public facing persona.
There was also far more call-outs to Biden and Obama’s careers over the past 10 years and random stats than I needed. It reached the point of ridiculous, and more than once pulled me completely out of the story. These nuggets are often dropped in as exposition both from Joe’s narration and from other characters and a lot of it felt really clunky and forced. Several times I said out loud to myself, “people just don’t talk like that.” I now know way more about the rate of crime in Delaware and the statistical relevance of the levels of crime in relation to the funding of the police departments and the social shifting of neighborhoods than I will ever need to know.
I feel like I’m completely bashing this book and I don’t want to do that. It isn’t a bad book, the story is interesting and I was intrigued to get through to the end and find out what actually happened. It just turns out the concept doesn’t work for me as well as I had hoped it would and I do think that’s mostly a personal thing.
This is going onto my CBR Bingo card as my So Shiny! Square.