Murder on the Cliff

Stephanie Matteson, Author, Stefanie Matteson, Author Diamond/Charter $3.99 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55773-596-6
Matteson ( Murder at Teatime ) recalls aging movie star Charlotte Graham for her fourth performance as amateur sleuth in this nuanced if genteel murder mystery. The upper crust in Newport, R.I., has created the Black Ships Festival to celebrate the anniversary of Commodore Perry's opening of Japan. Among the honored guests is modern Japan's most famous geisha, Okichi- mago. She is the only surviving descendant of an infamous liaison between the first American consul to Japan and a beautiful 19th-century geisha. She doesn't survive for long, however, as she soon plunges off a cliff. Her lover, an American who excels at both sumo wrestling and the sumo lifestyle, is knifed shortly thereafter. Matteson's extensive research is apparent as she conveys a cornucopia of interesting tidbits about Newport society and architecture, geishas and sumo wrestlers. (Well-bred geishas don't show their teeth when they smile, since teeth are part of the skeleton and therefore a reminder of death.) Unfortunately, the murders and deduction are far less compelling than the cultural voyeurism with which Matteson surrounds them. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
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