Andrew Shaffer’s “Hope Never Dies” doesn’t feature the bad-to-the-bone Biden with the aviators and leather jacket that we’ve come to love. No, we get the one who broods more than April Ludgate because his best friend, Barack Obama, is off jet-setting instead of hanging with Biden at Rehoboth Beach.
The book is told in first-person with Biden as the protagonist. Early in the book Obama visits him because a train conductor has been found dead on the tracks just south of Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station which Shaffer points out, no one but no one calls it that, it’s just the train station. The conductor, a friend of Amtrack Joe’s, was found with a map to Biden’s house and a packet of heroin in his pockets.
As a Delawarean, I was reading “Hope Never Dies” not to snipe at its getting Delaware wrong, but rather to bask in its Delawareness. And there wasn’t a lot of that. There was a detective named Dan Capriotti, a walk on the Riverfront, a drive up Route 52 and the smatterings of neighborhoods, but there wasn’t enough. Look, I know Delaware ain’t no Vegas, but we got some things, we really do. We’re not just a tollbooth.
And if Shaffer wasn’t going to give us enough Delaware, the story better be good. Sadly, it wasn’t. Biden and Obama’s investigation is over a fast few days and Biden even gets into some fights, but there’s no mystery to speak of. Reading “Hope Never Dies” is like eating cotton candy at a fair. By the way, the cover illustration by Jeremy Enecio is far better than the book.