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Mystery Monday Review – East is East

East is East by Emma Lathen

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

This mystery is set in the Japan of the early 1990s. It was a country beset by a big insider trading scandal called Recruit that shook up big business and bumpkin politicians that thought they were big shots.

Carl Kruger is trying to turn around Lackawanna, a huge company that sounds suspiciously like lead-footed, heavy-handed GE. Our series hero, banker John Putnam Thatcher, heads the credit committee that is supervising Lackawanna’s move into robotics. The murder of a functionary of the Ministry of International Trade and Investment (MITI) occurs in Tokyo at a meeting among MITI, Lackawanna, an English robotics subsidiary of Lackawanna, and two Japanese trading companies. Documents indicate that bribery was playing an ugly part in keeping foreign companies out of the Japanese market.

Thatcher of course becomes involved in tracking down the culprit. One would expect to miss the other series regulars like Charlie Trinkam, Ev Gabler and the formidable Miss Corsa. But in fact the plot and incident are satisfying. The asides about changing business mores and ‘three men in a room’ inner circles give the reader a sense of being privy to the inside skinny but at the same time the author resists the temptation to explain Japanese business culture. The 21st book in the series was the first after a three-year break, taken after 1988’s Something in the Air.





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