The Novel

US Embassy, Cambodia

Junior American diplomat Chris Kelly spends his days behind blast-proof glass interviewing visa applicants—not exactly the glamorous lifestyle he’d had in mind when he joined the State Department. And Cambodia, while not the worst place in the world to pay his dues on window duty, is not exactly Paris. The State Department considers Cambodia an “extreme hardship” post, and millions of its citizens can still recount atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era. But that’s not what gives Kelly nightmares.

Chea Phyrom is the nephew of Cambodia’s prime minister. He’s what the American Embassy calls a classic MRE—morally repugnant elite—and is the undisputed king of Cambodia’s vibrant sex industry. Protected by his uncle, he makes a fortune fulfilling the needs of a multinational flood of sex tourists that grows with every passing year.

Chea’s nemesis is Sochua Nika, the only female general ever in Cambodia’s armed forces. The prime minister found it politically expedient to make her head of his anti-human trafficking unit—with the tacit understanding she was supposed to look the other way. Sochua didn’t get the memo. An ambitious political diva with a political power base of her own, she’s made it her life’s ambition to take Chea Phyrom down.

By night, Kelly secretly volunteers for IRM, an organization that rescues children from sexual slavery. Posing as a foreign tourist, he leaves his bubble of safety for the seedy nightlife of Phnom Penh in search of underage prostitution. When Sochua’s elite anti-trafficking unit, acting on a tip from IRM, raids Chea Phyrom’s flagship brothel, Kelly finds himself at the nexus of a deadly political power game he didn’t bargain for. Chea vows to make an example of everyone involved—and he doesn’t give a damn about diplomatic immunity.