Death from the Clouds

Shizuko Natsuki, Author Ballantine Books $3.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-345-36667-2
The drug-overdose death of electronics genius Okito Shirafuji has cast a pall over the family-owned Ruco Corporation. The pall soon turns to panic as, one by one, Ruco's top executives meet with suspicious ends. A malfunction in his private plane sends brother Ryuta to a fiery death; then managing director Yaeko, once Okito's mistress, is poisoned; and brother Koji is blown up by a time-action bomb. The police reach an intriguing hypothesis: shunted aside as his inventive powers failed, Okito vengefully booby-trapped all three before committing suicide. It is left to Okito's niece Toko and his son Akihito to clear Okito's name and prevent the murder of the next presumed victim, Toko's father. While Japan is a refreshing setting for mystery, the plot never travels much beyond cruise speed. Further flaws include a stilted translation, such creaky devices as a portentous vision shared by Ryuta and Toko just before he dies, and the fact that a hunch of Toko's, based on very little, becomes the solution on which the plot turns. Shizuko Natsuki is Japan's bestselling mystery author, whose works include Portal of the Wind. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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