Lustbader--Master of the Orient!--returns stronger than ever with the fourth of the Nicholas Linnear novels (The Ninja, 1980; The Miko, 1984; and White Ninja, 1990), with a fifth promised. Lustbader's dense approach to storytelling lets rich backgrounds support incredible plots and high-tension martial-arts battles. Here, he lavishes even more care than usual on bringing Tokyo, Venice, Paris, and Washington to a ringing life against which his stereotypes leap superhumanly and unload tons of Eastern expertise. Nicholas Linnear, co-owner of the Japan-based Tomkin- Sato electronics corporation, fights the recession by trying to expand the firm's base in Vietnam, where he hopes to make his phenomenal T-PRAM computer chip (it's based on the human brain structure) while being hit with attacks from McCarthy-like investigations by Senator Rance in Washington. Meanwhile, his wife, Justine, takes a passionate distaste for the Japanese following the death of their child and a miscarriage. In the middle of all this, the Kaisho (or Godfather of Japanese criminals) calls upon Nicholas to repay a moral debt incurred by his late father, who--when on General MacArthur's staff following WW II--enlisted the Kaisho's aid in jump-starting democracy in Japan. The Kaisho has moved in on the American Mafia--but an even superior Japanese criminal organization wants to kill the elderly Kaisho while forming a worldwide underworld conglomerate. The Kaisho trusts no one among his own people: Nicholas must find and destroy the assassin, despite his scorn for Yakuza. The assassin, the death-loving Du Doc--a mind-reading Vietnamese of fabulous fighting ability and access to occult areas of martial arts that Linnear himself must now master if he is to meet Du Doc head-on--is one of Lustbader's best villains, his wickedness woven with an erotic mastery that melts all women. Plunging melodrama and poppy dreams of supersex. Superior hokum.