In the authentic Japanese background of the time immediately before and after Hiroshima, the exciting pattern of events in this second novel (her first, Be Ready With Bells and Drums, see 1961, p. 560) is impressively overshadowed by the well drawn characters involved. The American Mary Ogata and her weak feminine self-concern; honorable old Suzuki San, faithful and practical servant; German-Portuguese Ludi Hoffer, a brazen mixture of black market beneficence and cynical male strength; and Noguchi, the diligent, estimable police inspector--such are the graphic representatives of different nations and personalities that are brought together in a wartime village of foreigners. Mary is unable to rise to the dramatic occasion when Ludi brings a wounded American flyer to recuperate secretly in her house. Self-pitying because of her unsuccesful ""kimono marriage"" to a Japanese and her penalty for a minor food illegality inflicted by Captain Tanaka, who tortures and desires her, Mary cannot meet the challenge of Ludi's love either. Although she kills Captain Tanaka in a frantic moment, the ensuing investigation proceeds unsuccessfully only because of Ludi's and Suzuki's wary cleverness. In the unraveling after the war, Ludi becomes an American liaison officer; and Mary decides to return home, but, in a last minute impromptu, remains to convince Ludi that she is worthy of his love. The plot is smooth; the American A-Bomb and Occupation against the old Japanese backdrop, unsentimental and genuine; but the novel's real merit is the characters--who make vividly enjoyable fiction.