Last Days in Shanghai

Casey Walker. Counterpoint, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-61902-430-4
If your opinion of Congress wasn’t already at rock bottom, it will be by the end of Walker’s shockingly plausible literary debut. Twenty-four-year-old Luke Slade has landed a plum job that’s turned him into a cynic: he is a legislative aide to California congressman Leonard Fillmore, whose ego (in contrast to his brain) is large enough to fill not only the Capitol, but also, he hopes, the White House. Leo’s richest backer funds a trip to China, where things go impossibly—and hilariously—wrong for Luke and his boss. Luke loses Leo following a night of drinking, and then gets mistaken for the Congressman. And worse, as the youthful “Congressman Fillmore,” Luke accidentally accepts a briefcase of bribe money intended to cement a business deal with a Chinese mayor, who is soon found dead. China’s no-holds-barred economy serves as the perfect setting for bringing these debauched and dishonest dregs of Congress out into the smoggy Chinese sunlight. As the situation veers out of his control, Luke’s rising panic transforms an outrageous tale of embezzlement into a rollicking moral drama. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
Release date: 12/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 244 pages - 978-1-61902-590-5
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