Prolific Japanese author Natsuki sets her US debut novel in the resort-town of Asahi Hills at the foot of Mt. Fuji--where the Wada family gathers at their villa every New Year's holiday. Among those present: youngest daughter Chiyo, with her friend/English tutor Jane Prescott; her dignified mother Kazue and scientist-stepfather Sawahiko; grand-uncles Shigeru and Yohei; plus Yohei's wife, nephew, and personal physician. But Jane's first evening of polite conversation erupts into violence when Chiyo appears blood-stained and hysterical--claiming to have stabbed Yohei to death, fending off his sexual attack on her. And, especially since Yohei was the family patriarch and head of Wada Pharmaceuticals, the family constructs an elaborate scheme to protect Chiyo and the family name--with help from an uncertain Jane. Will Detective Nakazato spot the scheme's glaring flaw? Yes, he will--and it soon seems that he was meant to do just that. So his hardworking force has to unravel layers of motive and plot, boxes within boxes, until--aided by Jane--they unmask the unsurprising culprit. Interesting background--but the plot is an overelaborate tangle, with a mass of detail that leads to early ennui; and matters aren't helped by the rather stiff, pedantic writing style.