TORONTO – Political intrigue in Washington, D.C.? That’s nothing new. But that intrigue is anything but dull in the second book of Michael Kaufman’s genre-smashing Jen Lu series. A well-crafted, entertaining story told with humor, heart, guts and soul, “The Last Resort” (Jan. 10, 2023, Crooked Lane Books) is perfect for fans of political thrillers, speculative fiction, police procedurals, and feminist and anti-racist literature.
It’s March 2034, six months after D.C. police Detective Jen Lu and Chandler, her sentient bio-computer implanted in her brain, cracked the mystery of Eden. But the climate crisis is hitting harder than ever: A mega-hurricane has devastated the ecosystem, and waves of refugees are pouring into Washington, D.C. The rich live forever while the desperate scramble for the modified longevity treatment. Then, the death of lawyer and media darling Patty Garcia, who won a court case for massive climate change reparations to be paid out by oil, gas and coal companies, signals a glaring red flag to a wider conspiracy. Jen and Chandler are called in to crack the case. Signs point to Patty’s ex, James Culpepper, a former oil giant, but as the duo dig deeper, they turn up more suspects who might have an even greater motive for killing Patty.
Jen’s search puts her in the crosshairs of those who will ensure the truth never comes to light, no matter the cost. As she continues to delve deeper into the seedy underbelly of the city, she has to move quickly — before she becomes next on the killer’s list.
“The Last Resort”
Michael Kaufman | Jan. 10, 2023 | Crooked Lane Books
Mystery/Technothriller | Hardcover | 9781639102075 | $28.99
MICHAEL KAUFMAN has worked for decades engaging men to support women’s rights and positively transform the lives of men. He is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. He volunteers as a senior fellow at Promundo (Washington, D.C.) and has worked in 50 countries with the United Nations, governments, NGOs and educators. He advised the French government in 2019 as a member of its G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.
He is the author of numerous nonfiction and fiction works, and was awarded the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His most recent nonfiction book is “The Time Has Come.” He’s also written “Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution” (2019) and his first Jen Lu novel“The Last Exit.” His books and articles have been translated into 14 languages. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, having lived in Durham, North Carolina, and now living in Toronto, Canada, he is married and has a daughter and a son. For more information, please visit michaelkaufman.com.
In an interview, Michael Kaufman can discuss:
- His decadeslong career with the United Nations, governments, NGOs and businesses engaging men to support women’s rights and how that influenced his fiction writing
- How the Jen Lu series blends elements of police procedurals and mystery genres with those of political thrillers, science-fiction, speculative fiction, and anti-racist and feminist works.
- The challenge writing a page-turning story that weaves in themes of climate change, technology and violence against women
- Why we still need good fiction at a time when we’re beset by so many serious problems across the world
- Projects he’s working on and what’s next for Jen Lu
Also in the Jen Lu Mystery Series
Set in Washington, D.C. in 2033, climate change has hit hard: Fires are burning, unemployment is high and controversial longevity treatments are available only to the ultra-rich. Enter resourceful young police detective, Jen B. Lu, and her partner, Chandler, a synthetic computer implant in her brain acting as her link to police records and a constant voice inside her head. He’s a wannabe tough guy with a sense of humor and his own ideas about solving crimes.
As a detective in the Elder Abuse Unit, Jen is supposed to be investigating kids pushing their aging parents to “exit” so they are eligible to get the longevity drug. But what really has her attention are the persistent rumors about Eden, an illegal version of the longevity drug, and the bizarre outbreak of people aging almost overnight, then suddenly dying.
When Jen’s investigations of Eden take her too close to the truth, she is suspended, Chandler is deactivated, and her boyfriend is freaked out by “the thing inside her brain” — leaving Jen to pursue a very dangerous investigation all on her own.
“The Last Exit: A Jen Lu Mystery”
Michael Kaufman | Crooked Lane Books | Mystery | Hardcover | ISBN: 9781643855677 | Price: $27.99
Praise for “The Last Exit”
“[An] outstanding series launch…Exceptional worldbuilding is complemented by sympathetic characters and suspenseful plot twists. Kaufman is a writer to watch.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Kaufman keeps the pot boiling … A strong, richly imagined brew.” — Kirkus Reviews
“An engrossing thriller set in a fascinatingly plausible near future, ‘The Last Exit’ centres on a human-AI partnership that’s as believable as it’s moving.” — Emma Donoghue, New York Times bestselling author of “Room”
“ ‘The Last Exit’ hits hard. Fast action — a melding of the mental and physical — keeps this smart futuristic thriller racing, and its contemporary implications keep the reader thinking.” —Thomas Perry, bestselling author of “A Small Town”
An interview with Michael Kaufman
This is the second book in your Jen Lu series. How soon after finishing the first book did you know you wanted to continue Jen’s story?
The minute I read the first reviews. I knew I’d taken a risk writing a mystery that bent genres and that delved into political themes, but only when I started hearing from readers did I realize how much my approach — page-turning, serious themes yet fun to read — was something I wanted to continue doing.
You have decades of experience working with the United Nations, NGOs and various government officials and educators. How have you used this expertise to write about some complex topics like climate change and the intricacies of the oil and gas industry?
I’ve worked directly with presidents and prime ministers. I could answer that this has given me insights into the workings of political power. But here’s my real answer: We all need stories. Not only to entertain but to make sense of our lives. Right now, there is no more important issue than the quickly emerging climate crisis and the utter culpability of the oil, gas and coal industries in destroying our future.
“The Last Resort” has a secondary theme of men’s violence against women. How does this fit into the story?
It’s a critical theme in itself. Across the country and around the world, there is a rash of violence against women: in our homes, at work, at places of learning and on the streets. Engaging men as allies with women to end this violence has been my life’s work.
There are a variety of politically charged themes throughout the book. What would you say to people who are looking for a fiction book that “isn’t political”?
First of all, “The Last Resort,” is entertainment. It’s fun; it’s exciting. My goal isn’t to educate — I leave that to my nonfiction books. At the same time, every moment of our lives is shaped by political realities, and that is nowhere more true than with the climate crisis. I believe that some of the most powerful stories ever written weave in the political and social realities of the day. Imagine if Tolstoy had left out the war part; his great novel would have read like a Netflix costume drama.
Speaking of politics, there are a lot of tough themes the book touches on, but the series’s tone overall is ultimately one of hope (surrounded with humor). Why did you choose to go this route?
The last thing readers need is another grim dystopia. I believe strongly in the human capacity to change, not simply at the individual level but our ability to imagine and then to create a better world. Faced with the existential realities of the climate crisis, we need that vision of hope and change more than ever. Shouldn’t fiction that digs into the tough issues we face today and in years ahead bring us up rather than bring us down?
What do you hope readers gain from the book?
Gain? I hope they gain some absolutely entertaining moments. I hope they can’t put it down. But I also hope it allows them to imagine a future that is certainly full of challenges but also possibilities for positive change.
Is there another Jen Lu book in the works? Are you working on any other projects?
Yes, there will be a sequel. I’m also at work on a traditional thriller as well as a literary novel and a screenplay. Plus, of course, I continue my advisory role with various U.N. agencies, governments, NGOs and companies. That said, I can’t wait to hang out again with Jen Lu and Chandler, her computer implant and wannabe tough guy.
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Born and bred in Louisiana, currently living in New Orleans, she has lived and developed a strong base for our company and authors in Chicago and Nashville. Her journalism work has appeared in USA Today, National Geographic and other major publications. She is now interviewed by media on best practices for book marketing.