Christopher Buckley's universe seems to be populated pretty much by conniving insiders with not much of a moral compass--which makes them very entertaining. In 2012's "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?," we meet Walter "Bird" McIntyre, a lobbyist (with a secret yearning to be a Tom Clancy-like novelist) who's been tasked by his defense contractor employers to create a U.S.-China conflict in order to justify the mind-boggling cost of a super-secret weapons project. He works with ultra-neocon Angel Templeton (of the Institute for Continuing Conflict) to start a rumor that Chinese agents are trying to assassinate the Dalai Lama. Pretty soon, US and Chinese officials are scrambling to get ahead of the story, and things start to spiral out of control. McIntyre's personal situation is complicated by the fact that his wife, Myndi, has just been made a member of the US Equestrian team--after great financial investment on Bird's part--and is looking forward to a major competition in China, the kind of thing that gets canceled when two nations ramp up the military rhetoric. The characters are colorful, the dialog snappy. It's a quick, entertaining read, and reminds me a bit of the work of Carl Hiaasen.