Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency is put on hold when a St. Patrick’s Day stopover to visit his old pal Barack Obama in Chicago turns into a mashup of crime, corruption, free-wheeling adventure, wisecracks, and sententiousness.
Some people have no respect, fumes Biden as he tosses aside Murder on the Amtrak Express, the roman à clef starring him, which sounds an awful lot like Shaffer’s Hope Never Dies (2018). Who could possibly imagine that the eminent former vice president of the United States could get involved in such shenanigans? But hours later, Biden, who’s come to the ex-president’s hometown so that Obama can introduce him to Caruso, an activist rapper who could go a long way toward shoring up Biden’s electoral appeal to African Americans, is hip-deep in another dose of the same. After Obama’s Blackberry goes missing, Biden recalls that Shaun Denton, a teenager who’s risen above a tough childhood to become a member of Michelle Obama’s Rising Stars program, had the perfect chance to swipe it. Not wanting to alarm his old running mate, Biden follows Shaun by himself until the trail ends on the city’s South Side, where someone’s shot Shaun twice. The kid isn’t dead, but he’s comatose, at high risk of infection, and unlikely to offer any useful information about who shot him even if he survives. So Biden and Obama join forces once more to track down the shooter, recover that errant Blackberry, and figure out just how far they can trust Mayor Rahm Emanuel and whether Red Door, the charity run by Obama’s friend pastor Jenkins Brown, is really on the level, all the while avoiding kidnappers (not entirely successfully) and locals quaffing green beer. This time around, Biden is less humorous than before, moralizing and generalizing as if he were honing lines for his stump speech at the end of every chapter.
Just as silly as it sounds.