|The cover of Hope Rides Again, by Andrew Shaffer, 2019.|
|Author Andrew Shaffer|
Andrew Shaffer’s 2018 novel Hope Never Dies imagined Barack Obama and Joe Biden teaming up to a solve a murder. In the 2019 sequel, Hope Rides Again, Obama and Biden once again combine forces to solve a crime. While the first book took place in Biden’s home state of Delaware, Hope Rides Again is set on Obama’s turf—Chicago.
Hope Rides Again simply isn’t as funny as its predecessor. All the jokes about Biden being old, clueless and out of touch just aren’t as funny now that he’s on the campaign trail and has seemed, well, old, clueless and out of touch.
While I was happy that Hope Never Dies took a (relatively) realistic view of the plot, as opposed to just being completely over the top, I found myself wanting Hope Rides Again to be more over the top. The idea is a ridiculous one to begin with, so why not just make it completely bonkers? Although Hope Rides Again does get points by allowing Biden to get behind the wheel of a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. (Minus points for making Obama ride in the back seat, because too many people would recognize him.)
There’s a lot of earnest speechifying in Hope Rides Again. Take this example by Obama:
“It’s time to go. It’s been a long day for all of us. And to be fair to Pastor Brown, you and I don’t know Chicago like he does. I’ve been gone a long time. Neighborhoods change; people change. Some things, however, remain the same. This is a dangerous town. It’s gotten better, but it’s no Mayberry. Even if we solve this case, it won’t stem the flow of guns into the city. It’ll ease our minds, but not a damn thing more.” (p.184)
Sure, that sounds reasonably like something Barack Obama would say, but there are just too many times in the novel when characters enter that kind of didactic mode. The plot, centering as it does around a young African American male getting shot in Chicago, is pretty depressing.
There are still some laughs to be found in Hope Rides Again, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as Hope Never Dies.