THE BOGUS BUDDHA by James Melville


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The 11th low-key adventure for Japan's Superintendent Otani finds his sister-in-law, an academic, suspicious of two ""accidents"" befalling the dean of a summer school for foreigners at Araku-in. When the dean, who built his reputation on the discovery of a certain Buddha and ancient scroll, is finally murdered, Otani's men step in--and soon succumb to romance with various visiting professors. Meanwhile, Otani senses a tie-in with the disappearance of recently released mobster Keizo Hosoda, and, it turns out, the dean was delaying--for historical reasons--the completion of an underworld-financed real-estate project. Suspicion falls on Miyamoto, the school's much-celebrated papermaker, then turns toward others when the dean's assistant is also murdered. The barely plausible solution relies on a bit of eavesdropping, a staged confrontation, and a ho-hum motive; and, as in most Melville tales, there's much reliance on coincidence to move along an inertia-prone plot. Less here than usual for Otani fans, but feminists will be pleasantly surprised.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1991
Publisher: Scribners