My Novel – The China Connection

The Oval Office from above in 2001, during the...

The Oval Office During the Gorge W. Bush Administration

Note: Here’s an excerpt from my fact-based fiction mystery thriller, The China Connection. Its plot revolves around efforts by the Chinese military to gain information from the United States about dual use technology – information they could use to perfect their military and civilian missile programs – by illegally contributing to the re-election campaigns of the U. S. president and vice-president in exchange for relaxation of restrictions we had in place against trading these items to them.

“Warren Jenkins Carswell, an unlit cigar clenched between his teeth, was pacing the Oval Office. Seated around his desk were Bruxton Linley, Donald Fallon, Chairman of the National Committee, Vice-President Alston Gordon, and John Stanley, Gordon’s Chief of Staff.

“The money’s flowing to them from all sectors, Mr. President,” Fallon was saying. “From individuals, and from both small and large businesses. They’ve raised almost twenty mil already, and the election’s still eleven months off. They’ve even been making inroads among the rank-and-file members of the Teamster’s Union.”

“What have we raised so far?” Carswell returned to his desk and sat.

“We’re still paying off our debt from the ’94 elections. Six million to go before we break even,”  Fallon responded bleakly.

“Carswell’s eyes darted from Fallon to Linley and back.”If they keep goin’ like this, they’ll make big gains in the House.”

“Might even take over the Senate,” Gordon observed dryly.

“Carswell noted that the blood had drained from Gordon’s face.  Al’s worried, He’s been a politician for over thirty years and he expects to be president after I finish my second term. But for that to happen, I have to first win a second term.”

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel of Suspense and Intrigue,July 8, 2003. By: Paul B. Cora, Baltimore, MD.

 Writer Anthony Sacco has effectively combined factualized events which chillingly parallel developments in US-Chinese relations during the 1990s with a cast of fascinating but believable characters to produce a first-rate novel of technological espionage and suspense. Bent on acquiring US satellite technology, the Chinese military utilizes every means at its disposal, including planted agents and political intrigue aimed directly at the highest office in the United States. When Chinese-American Johnny Chou disappears after indictment on campaign finance violations following a series of high-stakes political deals, private investigator Matt Dawson is hired by the FBI as a low-profile operative whose task is to locate Chou before Chinese agents can kill him to prevent disclosure of everything he knows. Author Sacco takes the reader on a fasinating journey from the highest levels of the growing Chinese satellite program to the Oval Office, and in between to locations ranging from rural China to suburban Maryland. Set against the backdrop of Chinese-American espionage are an array of compelling individuals from main character Dawson, to US President Warren Jenkins Carswell, and Chan Chu-hua, a Chinese agent operating in the US, who ultimately discovers Christianity as she seeks to unravel the tangled web of her life. Readers will enjoy the unmistakeable parallels with events in the Clinton White House concerning Chinese technological espionage.


5 out of 5 stars Exposition of the technology transfer to China- 1990s,May 31, 2003. By: Henry Evans (Melbourne, FL).
Tony Sacco has brought to real life through his fictional characters the greatest giveaway the U.S. has ever made by the technology transfers of the Clinton Administration. His characters tell the story in a most dramatic way of how missile technology was given to the Chinese in exchange for indirect funding to the Administration’s war chest. The story is dramatic and told so very well by the book’s hero, Matt Dawson. There are plots and inner plots that show how the Clinton Administration provided incentives for some of the U.S. defense contractors to secretly deliver the technology over a period of eight years to the Chinese. The action is fast moving, much in the style of Tom Clancy, which immerses the reader in the large web of Chinese intrigue. Tony Sacco has a thriller and should be a MUST for all readers of novels.
5 out of 5 stars Engaging political thriller with unusual depth,March 25, 2003: By: John Fritz (Baltimore, MD USA)  
For a novel with such depth, this is one quick read. The writing is tight, riveting and graphic.Sacco’s first novel gives just enough plot line interspersed with exposition that you’ll find you’re always saying “just one more page.” This first time I read it, I got through about 30 “just one more pages.” The pace is fast, but there’s tons of depth along the way. One clever aspect of the novel is its careful interspersing and overlapping of the internal struggles of the main character, Dawson, with his external struggles. The unusual thing is that Dawson isn’t a flat, cookie-cutter protagonist, but a complex man struggling with some past issues as he’s more or less thrust into a position that doesn’t seem terribly unusual at first, but evolves into a major political and military scandal.

I like the fact that Dawson has a past, that he’s trying to be a good ex-husband, father, and boyfriend despite some past failures. Sacco isn’t afraid to create a protagonist with religious conviction (all-too easy to dismiss in modern literature). This protagonist actually goes to church and contemplates the moral justification for his actions, both personally and professionally, as an investigator. Sacco cleverly connects Dawson’s personal experiences with the larger political problem of relativism. He accuses the moral climate of a thinly veiled version of the Clinton administration, for allowing and even instigating political scandals that-if the truth ever came out-would shock us all.

Sacco’s fictitious president is a thin disguise for Clinton, providing a convenient hedonistic antagonist who personifies all that Dawson is trying not to be: self-serving, focused on immediate-gratification, and morally bankrupt. The novel revolves around the administration’s failure to restrict powerful weapons technology from getting into the hands of Chinese leaders in exchange for money and political influence. The fictional account closely parallels the true events of Clinton’s administration and policies with regard to China, weaving it within a fictional main plot that takes the reader through the contrastingly principled Dawson’s personal struggles with past mistakes and a budding romantic interest.

Sacco is able to fictionalize and clarify an extremely complex series of backdoor political shenanigans. I was impressed with his ability to string together so many and disparate events and show how they were all effects of a misguided political agenda. Although he takes some artistic liberties with dates, events and people, his account is remarkably accurate and comprehensible. Many characters are composites, and other extenuating circumstances are conveniently omitted (that’s the privilege of fiction, it allows us to focus on only what is of consequence and ignore all the tangential daily clutter that may or may not be relevant). He comes down hard on the administration and exposes it for what it was: a lot of self-indulgent, shortsighted opportunists who raided the system for their political, monetary gain. The book is scathing in its rebuke of what Sacco sees as the moral relativism of the administration, and he inists that  character does count when you are at the helm of the world’s greatest super power.

Really, it’s one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read in the past couple years. There’s just enough action to keep you intrigued and just enough political subtext to keep you outraged. One warning: you’ll need to think-about the character of those who we elect to high office, about self-serving political agendas, about moral relativism-but not so much that it ruins the adventure along the way.


4 out of 5 stars An interesting novel by a great new writer. May 21, 2003. By: George Snyder (Baltimore, MD., a retired State Police Investigator).
I liked this novel because it is a good read. The pace is fast, the transitions well-done, and the story exciting. Sacco’s descriptions of places in the book are interesting. I felt like I was there with the characters on their travels. His character development is excellent. The protagonist, Matt Dawson is a complex person, dealing with issues from his past while resolutely moving ahead with his mission; to find Johnny Chou and return him to the U.S. to testify before a Congressional Investigative Committee. The minor characters are developed just enough to give weight and credence to the major ones. I heartily recommend this political thriller to anyone looking for a relaxing but informative novel, and look forward to Sacco’s next book, if there is to be one.
4 out of 5 stars Sacco knows his stuff. April 1, 2003. By: Michael Gabriele (Baltimore, MD United States).
 After reading Anthony Sacco’s The China Connection, I came away not only fulfilled from a great read, but it is evident that Sacco did his homework. He has taken hard, in-depth facts surrounding the dangers of poltical agendas, and has woven a fast-moving thriller around those facts. The credibility of the situations make his characters even more interesting and real. You will not only find yourself emotionally pulling for Dawson, but you will soon realize that you are wrapped into the circumstances and reasoning of those responsible for a snowball of power, greed and deception. Very powerful. I highly reccommend it!

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