Während der glanzvollen Eröffnungsparty, die ein japanischer Konzern in Los Angeles veranstaltet, wird eine attraktive junge Texanerin ermordet. Die polizeilichen Ermittlungen gestalten sich äußerst schwierig, denn höchste Stellen üben politischen und wirtschaftlichen Druck aus, da sie an einer Aufklärung des Falls nicht interessiert sind. Die japanische Devise "Geschäft ist Krieg" erweist sich als sehr zutreffend. Crichtons Roman ist ebenso spannend und aufregend wie erschreckend aktuell.
Actually, I was sitting on my bed in my apartment in Culver City, watching the Lakers game with the sound turned off, while I tried to study vocabulary for my introductory Japanese class.
It was a quiet evening; I had gotten my daughter to sleep about eight. Now I had the cassette player on the bed, and the cheerful woman's voice was saying things like, "Hello, I am a police officer. Can I be of assistance?" and "Please show me the menu." After each sentence, she paused for me to repeat it back, in Japanese. I stumbled along as best I could. Then she would say, "The vegetable store is closed. Where is the post office?" Things like that. Sometimes it was hard to concentrate, but I was trying. "Mr. Hayashi has two children."
I tried to answer. ..." I swore. But by then the woman was talking again.
"This drink is not very good at all."
I had my textbook open on the bed, alongside a Mr. Potato Head I'd put back together for my daughter. Next to that, a photo album, and the pictures from her second birthday party. It was four months after Michelle's party, but I still hadn't put the pictures in the album. You have to try and keep up with that stuff.
"There will be a meeting at two o'clock."
The pictures on my bed didn't reflect reality any more. Four months later, Michelle looked completely different. She was taller; she'd outgrown the expensive party dress my ex-wife had bought for her: black velvet with a white lace collar.
In the photos, my ex-wife plays a prominent role--holding the cake as Michelle blows out the candles, helping her unwrap the presents. She looks like a dedicated mom. Actually, my daughter lives with me, and my ex-wife doesn't see much of her. She doesn't show up for weekend visitation half the time, and she misses child-support payments.
But you'd never know from the birthday photos.
"Where is the toilet?"
"I have a car. We can go together."
I continued studying. Of course, officially I was on duty that night: I was the Special Services officer on call for division headquarters downtown. But February ninth was a quiet Thursday, and I didn't expect much action. Until nine o'clock, I only had three calls.
Special Services includes the diplomatic section of the police department; we handle problems with diplomats and celebrities, and provide translators and liaison for foreign nationals who come into contact with the police for one reason or another. It's varied work, but not stressful: when I'm on call I can expect a half-dozen requests for help, none of them emergencies. I hardly ever have to roll out. It's much less demanding than being a police press liaison, which is what I did before Special Services.
Anyway, on the night of February ninth, the first call I got concerned Fernando Conseca, the Chilean vice-consul. A patrol car had pulled him over; Ferny was too drunk to drive, but he was claiming diplomatic immunity. I told the patrolmen to drive him home, and I made a note to complain to the consulate again in the morning.
Then an hour later, I got a call from detectives in Gardena. They'd arrested a suspect in a restaurant shooting who spoke only Samoan, and they wanted a translator. I said I could get one, but that Samoans invariably spoke English; the country had been an American trust territory for years. The detectives said they'd handle it. Then I got a call that mobile television vans were blocking fire lanes at the Aerosmith concert; I told the officers to give it to the fire department. And it was quiet for the next hour. I went back to my textbook and my sing-song woman saying things like, "Yesterday's weather was rainy."
Then Tom Graham called.
"It's the fucking Japs," Graham said. "I can't believe they're pulling this shit. Better get over here, Petey-san. Eleven hundred Figueroa, corner of Seventh.