Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 271
Japanese culture itself is a mystery to many Americans, as it is to detective Peter Smith. In RISING SUN, the chronicle of three days of investigation into the murder of a young woman during a business party, Smith finds himself investigating a foreign culture as well as a crime.
Smith is called into the case as a Special Services liaison of the Los Angeles Police Department, a specialist in dealing with people from other cultures. He soon finds that there is much of Japanese culture that he doesn’t understand. Smith is guided through the intricacies of Japanese behavior by John Connor, a detective on leave who used to hold Smith’s job.
The murder of Cheryl Austin should be easy to solve, as it was videotaped by security cameras at the Nakamoto building. Nakamoto officials, however, obstruct the investigation from the beginning. The tapes of the murder and what they actually show prove to be a separate mystery. It is not only the tapes that lie: Most of the people questioned by the detectives have their own motives for concealing the truth. Very little is what it seems at first glance.
RISING SUN is a fascinating detective novel, full of as many surprises and as much fast-paced action as any mystery reader could desire. There is more to the book, however: Author Michael Crichton clearly has an agenda. RISING SUN is as much about Japanese business practices and the threat that Japan poses to American corporate society as it is a detective story. Crichton is clear in his motives, providing an afterword explaining his concerns and a bibliography of sources.
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