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Ellie McEnroe is an Iraq War vet living in Beijing, where she represents the work of cutting-edge Chinese political artists. She has one bum leg, a taste for dumplings and beer, and an evangelical mother and a sweet-tempered rescue mutt for roommates. She also has Chinese Domestic Security on her tail and a dwindling number of Percocets to get her through her bad days.
And she’s about to have some bad days. The immensely powerful—and occasionally homicidal—Shanghai billionaire Sidney Cao has asked Ellie to investigate Marsh Brody, his son’s suspicious new American business partner. Ellie knows she can’t refuse, and is grudgingly swept up into the elite social circles of Sidney’s three children: debauched Guwei, rebellious Meimei and social climber Tiantian. When a waitress is murdered at one of Tiantian’s parties, the last thing Ellie wants is to get sucked into a huge scandal involving China’s rich and powerful. But Ellie quickly becomes the most convenient suspect and realizes she’ll have to figure out who really did it—and even that might not be enough to save herself.
Michelle Mason tells herself she’s on vacation. A brief stay in the Mexican resort town of Puerto Vallarta. It’s a chance to figure out her next move after the unexpected death of her banker husband, who’s left behind a scandal and a pile of debt. The trip was already paid for, and it beats crashing in her sister’s spare room. When a good-looking man named Daniel approaches her on the beach, the margaritas have kicked in and she decides: why not?
But the date doesn’t go as either of them planned. An assault on Daniel in her hotel room, switched cell phones and an encounter with a “friend” of Daniel’s named Gary gets Michelle enmeshed in a covert operation involving drug runners, goons, and venture capitalists. Michelle already knows she’s caught in a dangerous trap. But she quickly finds that running is not an option. If she’s not careful, she’ll end up buried in the town dump, with the rest of the trash. Now she needs to fight smart if she wants to survive her vacation.