After the violence of Kristallnacht (1938), European Jews, now desperate to emigrate, found the consular doors of the world closed to them. Only one port required no entry visa: Shanghai, a self-governing Western trading enclave in what was technically Chinese territory, a political anomaly that became an escape hatch—if you were lucky enough to afford a ticket on one of the great Lloyd liners sailing to the East and safety.

Daniel Lohr was one of the lucky ones—lucky enough to have escaped the Gestapo when his colleagues in the resistance were caught, lucky to have an uncle waiting in Shanghai, lucky to find a casual shipboard flirtation turn unexpectedly passionate. But even lucky refugees have to confront the reality of Shanghai. With all their assets, and passports confiscated by the Nazis, they arrive penniless and stateless in a tumultuous, nearly lawless city notorious for vice. When you can sink fast, how far are you willing to go to survive? What lines do you cross? As Daniel tries to navigate his way through his uncle’s world in Shanghai’s fabled nightlife, he finds himself increasingly ensnared in a maze where politics and crime are two sides of the same shiny coin. The trick, his uncle tells him, is to stay one step ahead. But how do you stay ahead of murder? How do you outrun your own past?


Published by Scribner USASimon & Schuster UK, and Simon & Schuster Audio

“Superbly written WWII espionage thriller…this is as good as crime fiction gets.”

–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“The contract between his impeccable control and the nightmarish chaos of this time and place gives things a powerful edge. Kanon goes to China with stirring results.”

–Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Edgar–winning Kanon plays global and personal intrigues to perfection here. Fans of historical thrillers will appreciate Kanon’s ability to cloak betrayals with the period’s looming uncertainty and evoke Shanghai’s particular vitality.”

—Booklist, Starred Review

“Kanon’s cabaret is always a pleasure.”

—The Times

A deeply engrossing tale of corruption, violence, and doomed love in a fully realized human drama. Shanghai proves one of his most powerful stories to date.”


Joseph Kanon makes Shanghai a Casablanca-worthy setting for World War II-era intrigue. Start casting the movie version now.


“A fast-paced thriller.”