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Biden time!: New book stars former Prez and veep as mystery-solving duo

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Obama is basically Batman.

In a new mystery novel starring Joe Biden and Barack Obama, the former president vanishes into thin air, disarms a shotgun-toting biker, and rides in an armored car called “Little Beast.” Author Andrew Shaffer, who will read from his noir novel “Hope Never Dies” at Greenpoint’s Word bookstore on July 23, says that Obama has been so mythologized since he left office that he had to portray him as a little over-the-top.

“He almost has a supernatural quality to him, because that’s how people think of him. He’s almost larger than life,” said Shaffer.

The book, the first in a planned two-part “Obama-Biden Mystery” series, features the former president and vice president going undercover in the seedy underbelly of Wilmington, Delaware in order to solve the murder of an Amtrak conductor. The slightly ridiculous story is narrated by Biden, feeling adrift after six months out of office, and eager to team up with Obama again.

“It was kind of a Sherlock and Watston, with Biden as the everyman, and Obama as the brains behind the operation. I figured that was how it probably was in office,” said Shaffer.

Shaffer wrote the book in just six months. He did some research into Delaware locations and into the life of his narrator, but soon realized that getting too far into the real-life version of his characters worked against him.

“The more you find out about them as people, the less fun they are as characters,” he said. “In real life, Biden is a policy wonk.”

Shaffer’s version of Biden is a little bumbling and impulsive, but much more down-to-earth than the “Diamond Joe” portrayed in “The Onion.” The book’s striking cover, with Biden driving a Pontiac Firebird while Obama pops out the sun roof, was created after Shaffer felt an earlier version was out of character for the transit-minded veep.

“At one point we had Joe standing up, and we were like ‘There’s no way Joe is not going to buckle his seat belt.’ ” Shaffer recalls.

At Word, Shaffer will be joined by comedian and Obama impersonator Dion Flynn, who often appears on “The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

“Hope Never Dies” at Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com]. July 23 at 7:30 pm. $5.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Posted 12:00 am, July 19, 2018
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