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Bradley Good
The Control Center (Book 1): THE CHINA AFFAIRS
Brad Good, author

Adult; undefined; (Market)

A chance meeting one night in Shanghai introduces American banker Jack Gold to an Israeli man named Ari, who has a stunning proposition: Help Israel and the United States infiltrate China’s heavily guarded Control Center and address the nation with the truth they deserve to hear. China, a country of 1.4 billion citizens, is an existential threat to itself and the rest of the world. With its news and media censored through the Control Center before being broadcast to viewers, the people of China have no hope of realizing their government is only looking to enrich and reward its most prominent leaders. But getting into the Control Center is not going to be easy. And even if such a dangerous undertaking proves successful, though, there is no guarantee that the growing tensions between China and the United States can be quelled. But Jack’s love for China, and the beautiful artist he meets one night, pushes him to the brink as he risks everything to help a nation of people whose lives and livelihoods have been stifled by government control. Written by Brad Good, who started living and working in the People's Republic of China in 1988, THE CHINA AFFAIRS is a series of four novels that take place in China. Good brings rare on-the-ground knowledge of contemporary Chinese political, social, and cultural issues, and associated international affairs. Jack Gold is an American in China who is recruited by an Israeli agent to penetrate the Control Center, China's broadcasting hub. (Book 1) Next, at great personal threat, China and the United States solicit his leadership in creating a new trade deal between the countries. (Book 2) Jack is then recruited by the President of China, with the use of artificial intelligence, to transform China and the lives of its citizens. (Book 3) After China elects a new president who returns the country to Communism, the President of the United States calls on Jack to lead a dangerous plan to fight back. (Book 4)
The kickoff to Good’s China Affairs series introduces Jack Gold, a young American businessman in Shanghai who gets caught up in convincingly detailed international intrigue. Jack’s unlucky in dating, frustrated at office politics limiting his advancement at his job at a Chinese bank, and increasingly alarmed by comments from his friend Ari—an Israeli who claims contacts high up in the Israeli Defense Force—about China’s business dealings with Iran, subjugation of its own people, and stealing of U.S. military secrets. “Wait a second—Are you suggesting we should do something?” Jack eventually asks. Ari’s response is yes, of course—all he asks of Jack is secrecy, a lot of trust, and a commitment, eventually, to change the world.

With a wealth of persuasive local, cultural, and financial world detail, Good captures Jack’s feelings of excitement and disorientation, of facing sudden business and romantic opportunities—and even surprise threats of violence—all while possibly being in over his head. The plan itself, when at last revealed, is a shocker, a scheme much more elaborate and public than anything Jack expected, involving a neurotoxin and an address to all of China, revealing to the populace shocking truths about the government and a Communist Party committed to keeping the populace poor and uneducated.

Good has planned a quartet of books, so Control Center ends with much story left to tell. Good doesn’t skimp on major developments and twists upending the international order as Jack and co. take bold, dangerous steps to “open” China. At times, these major events happen too quickly to stir traditional tension, but readers who prefer their international thrillers humane and thoughtful will find much to enjoy. Jack has been crafted as less of a two-fisted espionage hero than a persuasive truth teller who will make the most of his chance to address over a billion residents of a nation not his own.

Takeaway: An American businessman finds himself tasked with speaking truth to all of China.

Great for fans of: Alex Berenson’s The Ghost War, David Ignatius’s The Quantum Spy.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A