A SORT OF SAMURAI by James Melville


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British-style police procedure--but set, quite convincingly, in and around Kobe, Japan. Melville's central sleuth is Supt. Tetsuo Otani of the Hyogo Prefectural Police--who, like Scotland Yard's Gideon and countless others, has a mildly engaging home life (tartly adoring wife, new grandson) and a clutch of contrasting police underlings: the raw, eager rookie; the devil-may-care ladies' man; the sloppy, crusty, wise veteran-detective. And the case they're all working on comes to light when, after the city suffers one of its many earthquakes, Otani tours the wrecked streets: a howling dog leads the cops to the corpse of German businessman Richard Liebermann. Did he die of a heart attack? Or by some clever judo strangle-choke? Was he involved in gun-smuggling? And why is his wife (rumored to be having an affair with a Japanese buraku actor) nowhere to be found? The answers, aside from one nice twist, are unsurprising. But the intra-police wrangles are diverting, the contemporary-Japan details are intriguing (e.g., the ""Young Nude Housewife"" TV show), and this is sturdy, drily humorous entertainment for fans of J. J. Marricstyle police fiction.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's