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East Is East    by Emma Lathen order for
East Is East
by Emma Lathen
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTorch, 1994 (1991)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Once again the writing team behind the name Emma Lathen present an intriguing mystery played out against a high-powered financial background. John Putnam Thatcher, senior vice-president of the mighty Sloan Guaranty Trust, finds himself in Japan, as the Sloan is involved in a proposed merger between American and Japanese companies. There is much at stake for several powerful financial interests, and the negotiations are further complicated by scandal reaching into the highest levels of Japanese government.

Thatcher is pleasantly isolated from the feverish maneuvring until the murder of a minor Japanese official results in a scramble that threatens a Sloan-sponsored company. The action then moves to London, where a second murder further unsettles the negotiations. In each case, there is a veritable horde of suspects, all with much to gain. The authors' skill in creating personalities, major and minor, remains as sharp as ever. For all the intricacies of big business and international corporate finance, Lathen focusses on the human element. The characters are lively and well rounded; even minor characters, like the unfortunate bureaucrat Matsuda, spring to vivid life. The writers never forget that people are the heart of a story. They also exercise a witty, sly humour that belies the stodgy reputation of Wall Street.

East Is East is vintage Lathen and a pleasurable read. Once again the authors demonstrate their enviable skills at plotting, characterization, and entertainment. And Thatcher, a power to be reckoned with at the Sloan, again exercises his keen intellect to cut through a tangle of misdirection and reveal the truth.

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