“Barack once told me that, at the end of the day, every one of us is just part of a long-running story. All we can do is try to get our paragraph right.”
Joe Biden is lamenting the end of his bromance with former President Obama, the man himself shows up at his house, lurking in the shadows to inform him his address was found in the pocket of a body hit by an Amtrak train. With an unrelenting need for justice, Amtrak Joe sets out to find out if the conductor had simply stepped out on the tracks or if there was something much more sinister going on. With the help of the former president and an unwilling secret service agent, they uncover much more than they bargained for.
“He rose to his feet, a slime figure in his black hand-tailored suit. His white dress shirt was unbuttoned at the neck. He took a long drag off his cigarette and exhaled smoke with leisure. Barack Obama was never in a hurry.”
Former president Obama extends an invitation to Joe Biden to attend his economic symposium to meet some of the movers and shakers in Chicago, should Biden make a bid for the 2020 presidential election. While reluctant, Biden takes a detour from his book tour to make a stop in the Windy City. St Patrick’s day turns grim as one of the symposium’s young volunteers is shot in a rail yard on the wrong side of town. The police write it off as gang activity and move on to the next crime. Joe is not convinced. Suddenly he finds himself exploring the seedy underbelly of a marginalized Chicago, with the former president and his trusty secret service agent in tow. He suspects everyone from a local youth pastor, the mayor of Chicago, and the leader and mentor of Michelle and Barack Obama’s Rising Stars program of having a hand in the boy’s misfortune. He never expected his quick detour would lead him to the middle of Lake Michigan, wrestling with a live grenade and attempting to put an end to a gun trafficking operation.
“Disagreements weren’t settled by fisticuffs in the Senate. You couldn’t even joke about taking someone out under the bleachers and teaching them a lesson without folks getting their tighty-whities in a bunch. But Barack and I weren’t in Washington right now. We were in Chicago. The rules of engagement were different. It was time to go punch the bully in the mouth. That’s Chicago, baby.”
This book series is absolutely bananas and that is why I had to read it. I saw them on the shelf and the library and thought “Well, I have to.” I mean who would be at least a little bit intrigued by something touted as “An Obama Biden Mystery”. It was every bit as campy and goofy as I expected, but it was compelling enough to keep me going until the end. The author definitely plays up the “bromance” or lack there of between Obama and Biden in the post Obama era and definitely leaves “Uncle Joe” to do a lot of soul searching.
The second book even pokes fun at the first, having Joe pick up a copy at the airport on his way to a lecture, touting it as “pulp fiction”. And that is an apt description of these books. Cliched characters doing cliched things to solve crime.
I did find Joe’s inner monologue to be a little polarizing. He could be overly hard on himself at times while conversely being very critical of those who wouldn’t give him the time of day or the respect he felt he deserved. President Obama especially.
These books are by no means great literature, but they are a quirky and fun read. With the current hostile political climate, the innocent satire was a breath of fresh air. I would definitely recommend them for anyone looking for a quick mystery to dive into.
“Using force was a last resort, but, in Barack’s own words, force was sometimes necessary. Using force is a recognition of the imperfections of man and the limits of reason, he’d once said. We’d reached the limits of reason.”