Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Chicago to see his buddy President Barack Obama speak at a conference and is caught up in St. Patrick’s Day traffic and a murder mystery. How do high-powered, high-profile people solve a crime without being besieged by the public? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Hint: There’s a Pontiac Firebird involved.
Andrew Shaffer, the author of The New York Times Bestseller “Hope Never Dies,” will be reading from his new book, “Hope Rides Again” on Wednesday, July 24, at Carmichael’s Bookstore. But reading isn’t all he’ll do. He’ll answer questions and discuss the books, too, he said.
“I’m gonna read silently to myself and then walk away,” he joked. “That would be really awkward.”
Shaffer is from Iowa, but he moved to Louisville for love. Shaffer and his wife, author Tiffany Reisz, moved here a couple of months ago after living in Lexington then Portland, Ore.
They moved to Portland because, he explained, “it seemed like a writerly sort of thing to do — to move to a really hip place. But we found out it was just very, very expensive and you can find the same hipness in any city in the country, really.
“I mean, Louisville is right up there,” he continued. “We really love it. We’re like, ‘Wait a minute … we could have been here the whole time?’ “
The “Obama-Biden Mysteries” have been called fan fiction, buddy-cop stories and even liberal porn. But the books are mysteries at their heart, always solving a crime in the process. It’s just that the protagonists were once the president and vice president of the United States.
Shaffer said he saw a photo of Joe Biden with his Aviator sunglasses on and thought he looked like a stereotypical action hero. So he decided to work on the premise that the vice president doesn’t have much to do. But if he added Obama, then it becomes kind of a Sherlock-Watson dynamic, he said.
“It came together pretty quickly as soon as I said, ‘It’s more like Sherlock and Watson were almost like a ‘Lethal Weapon’ movie than just crazy Uncle Joe story.’ Then it came together very quickly after that,” he said.
The stories are written from Biden’s perspective and are chock full of comedy. At the beginning of “Hope Rides Again,” Biden is reading a book in the back of a taxi.
“Some two-bit hack had written a potboiler starring yours truly, Joe Biden. Not only that, but the money-grubbing publisher had the gall to slap my mug on the cover. … I might as well have flushed my 15 bucks down the crapper,” the book reads.
The Bidens have mentioned the books before and even asked to meet the author. Shaffer and Reisz were invited to see Biden when he came to Kentucky to stump for Amy McGrath last October. They were surprised to find themselves seated in the front row, next to Gov. Steve Beshear.
“He gets up there and he’s just ranting for 45 minutes about how the midterms are so important and this is the most important election in our lifetime and we need to get up and fight,” Shaffer said. “And he is not Happy Joe, he’s Angry Joe. He is mad as heck! And they’re like, ‘When he’s done up there he’s gonna come talk to you,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh no, he’s getting worked up. I really hope he has nice things to say.’ Then he comes off stage, and he goes, ‘You wrote that book about me,’ and I go, ‘Yeah,’ and he goes, ‘Great job! I love it.’ I was like, ‘Oh that means so much to me, thank you for reading it.’ He goes, ‘No, no, I didn’t read it.’ “
Recently, Shaffer was listening to Dr. Jill Biden’s book, “Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself,” and was surprised to hear her talk about “Hope Never Dies.”
“She said they have a real bromance, and it’s just like this, although they’re not solving crimes together,” Shaffer said. “And she goes, ‘And also I haven’t read the book.’ I was like, is anybody going to read it?”
With Biden running for president, the future of the series is up in the air. He and his editors are kicking around ideas for the next book.
“I don’t know what he’s trying to do, screwing up my book series by trying to run for president,” Shaffer joked. “He’s not going to have any time to solve mysteries then. What’s Obama gonna do?”
During the primaries, Shaffer is working hard to stay neutral. While visiting Iowa, he and Reisz saw Elizabeth Warren, who wanted to get a photo with him, thinking he was an Iowa voter. He tried to say no, but she persisted.
“I go, ‘We’re from Kentucky, you know we’re not going to help you out at all. You need people who are from Iowa to help you out here,’ ” Shaffer said. Warren replied, “Come on, come on, I love Kentucky!”
“I’m like if Joe sees me in a picture, he’s going to think I’m going around behind his back with other candidates,” Shaffer said. “So I got a picture, but it was really super awkward.”
Shaffer also has published “The Day of the Donald” (a spoof prediction of the Donald Trump presidency), “Fifty Shades of Earl Gray: A Parody” (under the pen name Fanny Merkin) and “How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Natural Disasters.”
His reading at Carmichael’s, 2720 Frankfort Ave., starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24.