Peter Smith, a Special Services officer and Connor, a senior semi-retired officer are called in to assist the murder investigation of a young woman. With a high profile grand opening celebration party of the Nakamoto Industries offices in its 45th floor, the Japanese would like the matter of a dead body found one floor below handled as discreetly as possible. As the political pressure mounts on them, so does the realization that nothing about this case is routine…
Sigh, I seem to end up picking books that either suffer from the “curse of the second half” or start off promisingly but just don’t hold my interest at the same level for the rest of the book.
I started this book just before a week-long vacation. Even after coming back home, I took too many breaks instead of reading it at a stretch. I wonder whether that might be a reason for me to get so disinterested after some time. Maybe… but what I am sure of is that, the investigative process in this book is something I didn’t enjoy reading. Anyone who is into crime procedural shows would be familiar with the term “profiling”. Connor solves the case by profiling, not “people” but the “Japanese ways”. By their silences, body language, corporate politics et al. Now I don’t know much about the country, nor do I know anyone from Japan, but I just didn’t buy it completely. I mean, I just couldn’t figure out where the accuracies end, stereotypes begin and where they blur together.
Oh no, that’s not even my main problem with the book. Fiction sometimes does require willing suspension of disbelief and to just go with the flow, which I did. And it was actually interesting to read about it for a while. What I found really tiresome to read and re-read was one major aspect in this book crucial to solving the case (oh don’t worry, It isn’t a spoiler as such.. as it is something made clear pretty early on in the book..) : video recording tapes from the CCTV cameras in the hotel during the party. There was a lot of technical information on imaging, pixilation, lighting, time lapses, shadows etc. to determine the authenticity and clarity of the tapes. Now, it isn’t something new to encounter detailed explanations about certain technology in Crichton’s novels. But here, it is much harder to understand and visualize what is happening when a lab tech talks about color shifts and transparent edges in a video frame because unlike Connor and Peter, we don’t have the benefit of seeing on the video monitor. So yea, that’s what I meant when I said I didn’t enjoy the investigative process much. Because some major breakthroughs in the case involved these tapes and whenever the characters had their “Eureka!” moments, I always felt like I was two steps behind rather than being with them.
Now you must have noticed that I have mentioned Connor more than Peter, though Peter is the narrator and the officer officially assigned to the case. Well, I found him to be inconsequential and clueless, with Connor telling him what to say, where to go, how to react. It is explained away as him being new to the liaison job and Connor as the one with years of experience of dealing with the Japanese. But I wish he had more of a voice in the case. The only thing I remember him doing is carrying the tapes from one agency to another in order to make copies.
The crux of this book revolves around corporate tussles and a strong commentary on American free trade versus closed markets of Japan. How well does Crichton tie that in to the murder mystery is a moot point, but I really liked that he tries to present a balanced view. No policies or practices in any country are perfect and everything has its own pros and cons. But as the famous goes, “The first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one” and that is the biggest takeaway from this book.
You can buy the paperback at: Rising Sun – Paperback
Buy the kindle edition at: Rising Sun: Kindle