A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China

Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang. PublicAffairs, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61039-273-0
When British businessman Neil Heywood was found dead in a tourist hotel outside Chongqing, few would have suspected that his death would result in a murder trial that would nearly disrupt the country’s once-in-a-decade leadership change. This deeply knowledgeable account of the rise and fall of regional Communist Party boss Bo Xilai (whose wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of Heywood’s murder) by veteran journalists Ho (China’s Princelings) and Huang (The Little Red Guard) reveals the weaknesses of top party leadership, which they argue, is controlled by “a privileged, corrupt, and law-defying group.” The authors unravel the myriad threads of politburo-level power struggles—which make the Borgias look like rank amateurs—weaving together a narrative that includes obscene wealth and corruption, orgies, and totaled Ferraris on the streets of Beijing. This expert account is bolstered by the authors’ willingness to admit that the story is so complex that “unless Heywood’s spirit can find a medium, the whole truth about the November 15 murder may never be known.” As China’s new president Xi Jinping leads the country into a new decade, the book shows that the country’s high-level politics are murky, sometimes deadly, and that reform is less important to its leaders than not “jeopardiz[ing] the party’s image of unity.” Agent: Peter Bernstein, Bernstein Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-61039-372-0
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