Luke Slade, a young Congressional aide, begins this trip to China like all other international travel he's endured with "Leo the Lyin'": buried under diplomatic runarounds and humiliated by the Congressman at every turn. But on their first night in Beijing, their trip is plunged into a deeper chaos: Leo goes on a drunken bender and disappears into the night, leaving Luke to piece together the Congressman's dubious business while maintaining appearances with their Chinese contacts. Amidst the confusion, bleary from jet lag and alcohol, Luke receives a briefcase of money from the mayor of a provincial Chinese city. When he later reconsiders and wants to return the "gift," he discovers even more anxiety-inducing news. There's been a mysterious death, and he's under surveillance by Chinese police. As Luke navigates this minefield of corruption, he must also confront his own conscience. Is he an unwitting fall guy? Or someone more capable of moral compromise than he once believed? Last Days in Shanghai is an unforgettable debut by a writer to watch.
It's a rollicking literary thriller and a pitch-perfect exploration of contemporary China--the country's rapacious capitalism, the shocking boom of its cities and the wholesale eradication of its traditions.