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Reviews of December 6 (2002)

Review by SlowRain (2007-03-03)
Set in Japan, 1941–two days before and the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor–it tells the story of Harry Niles, an American born, Japanese raised con-man/business owner, as he tries to ward off a possible war between the two countries that he's torn between.

On the one hand, this is a briskly-paced thriller, always keeping the reader interested, but never entirely sure of what's really going on. On the other, it's a wonderfully atmospheric and evocative picture of 1941 Japan, as well as flashbacks to Harry's youth in the 1920's. Smith, a veteran mystery writer of considerable literary skill, does this credible thriller justice as he spins his intriguing web of deception, revenge, betrayal, and love. It also has one of the most creative, non-clichéd uses of a gun as a plot device that I have ever read.

The strengths are the well-researched setting, the detailed narrative, the dialogue, and, for the most part, the intriguing plot. I think the weaknesses were the flashbacks, which sometimes interrupted the flow, and a few coincidences with the plot. However, I don't recommend this to a first time Martin Cruz Smith reader as the climax is a little too vintage Smith, and may put some new readers off of a wonderful author. I recommend reading "Gorky Park" or "Rose" first.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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