Death by Deception

Anne Wingate, Author Walker & Company $17.95 (195p) ISBN 978-0-8027-5714-2

Racial hatreds, corruption and prostitution form the background for this promising debut involving Japanese-American FBI agent Mark Shigata, whose 12-year-old stepdaughter Gail disappears after reporting a murder. Under suspension from the bureau because he is suspected of killing a woman whose body was found behind his garage, Shigata is aided in his hunt for Gail by local cop Al Quinn, who has himself lost his half-Vietnamese son to a hit-and-run driver. Together they find the body of Shigata's estranged wife, Gail's mother. Meanwhile Melissa, a battered wife, is on the run from her husband, Sam, head of a local white supremacist group, both of whom appear to have nebulous ties to Mark and his family. The relationships among the women and a ghost from the agent's past eventually provide the answers. Wingate limns a sensitive portrait of a man who lost his cultural identity during childhood because his father was deeply ashamed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Shigata is nursed to the beginning of psychological health by Quinn, with his Vietnamese family and his wide tolerance for human diversity and frailty. Readers bothered by Wingate's use of wild coincidence may reflect that events can happen thus in real life. (Nov.)