Mysterious Book Report No. 436
by John Dwaine McKenna
And if that cash belonged to a Hong Kong Triad kingpin with a history of killing debt welshers with a meat cleaver . . .
That’s the first half of the concept author Srinath Adiga opens with in his debut novel entitled: Dead Money, (Central Avenue, PB, $16.99, 416 pages, ISBN 978-1-77168-216-9). It’s the second part of the plot however, that’s utter genius, attention-grabbing and irresistible. That’s because Raymond Li—the high-rolling con artist and protagonist at the heart of this satirical masterpiece of crime fiction—comes up with an ingenious plan to keep himself from being chopped into fish chum. After a chance meeting with a man burning fake money on behalf of his ancestors, and a subsequent library visit, where he researches Chinese mythology and superstitious beliefs, Raymond Li comes up with the idea of “Afterlife Dollars” . . . fictional currency that’s purchased for real money in the here and now . . . to ensure a prosperous and comfortable existence in the afterlife. He starts small, in a Hong Kong strip mall, where he gets a charter and calls it the Bank of Eternity. Then, by using an aggressive marketing and advertising campaign with the slogan “Life Insurance is NO Good to You When You’re Dead,” and guarantees that deposits are backed by the “Afterlife Central Bank” which is run by “entities in the afterlife.” And Raymond Li knows this, he says, because he had a near-death experience and met them. And, damned if he doesn’t get the idea to take off! Because people will believe anything.
It’s an out and out con job . . . but the Bank of Eternity works because humans everywhere are trained to believe in the afterlife. In fact, the idea works so well, that within a few years the Bank of Eternity is world-wide . . . and that’s where the law of unintended consequences rears up and changes everything . . . when the focus shifts to Mumbai, India and then Amsterdam, Holland in this thought-provoking and highly entertaining novel. It’s got an edginess on every page that you’ll remember long after you’ve finished reading the last word!
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