Rising Sun (novel) - Plot Summary

Plot Summary

Nakamoto Corporation is celebrating the grand opening of its new headquarters, the Nakamoto Tower, in downtown Los Angeles; the 45th floor of the building is awash with celebrities, dignitaries and local politicians. On the 46th floor, Cheryl Lynn Austin, 23, is found dead. Lieutenant Peter J. Smith, the Special Services Liaison for the LAPD, is assigned to the case. He is joined, on request, by retired Captain John Connor, who has lived in Japan and is well-acquainted with Japanese culture.

Upon arriving at Nakamoto Tower, the two policemen learn from officer-in-charge Tom Graham that the Japanese, led by Nakamoto employee Ishiguro, are stalling the investigation by demanding that the liaison be present. Although they have a valid pretense in that the virulently racist Graham is threatening to disrupt the celebration, it is obvious to Connor that a cover-up is underway. The detectives realize that the tapes from the security cameras on the 46th floor have mysteriously disappeared, and the security guards are deliberately unhelpful. Smith and Connor visit the apartment of the late Ms. Austin, realizing that she was a mistress for the Japanese Yakuza. It seems that Ms. Austin's home had been ransacked soon after her death. After several visits to friends and associates of Ms. Austin and Nakamoto, the two detectives find a suspect in Eddie Sakamura, a wealthy Japanese playboy from Kyoto. However, the two are inclined to release him, due to Eddie's previous associations with John Connor.

The two officers are summoned to witness Ms. Austin's autopsy; trace evidence strongly suggests a Japanese killer. Afterwards, Smith and Connor are approached by Ishiguro, who now presents them with seemingly authentic videos from the security cameras, which show Sakamura to be the murderer. Having solved the mystery, Connor returns home to rest, while Smith and Graham go to apprehend Sakamura. Upon arriving at Eddie's house, the two detectives are stalled by two naked women while Eddie escapes in a Ferrari. After a high-speed chase, Eddie's car crashes and bursts into flames, killing him.

The next day, the newspaper runs editorials criticizing Smith, Graham, and Connor’s actions as racist and accuses them of police brutality. Soon afterward, Smith receives a phone call from the Chief of Police, declaring the investigation officially over. Smith isn’t satisfied, and decides to take the tapes to the University of Southern California, in order to make copies. There, Smith meets Theresa Asakuma, a Japanese student who is an expert on computers and software manipulation. She is able to quickly point out that the tapes were indeed copies. After copying the tapes, Smith then picks up Connor after his golf game with several Japanese friends. On their way back to the USC labs, the two detectives are offered lucrative bribes from the Japanese, including a membership at an expensive golf club and extremely low-priced real estate offers. They visit and consult with companies and industries involved with Nakamoto, in order to learn more about the killer's motives. Along the way, they realize that they are only pawns in a much larger political and economic "war" between America and Japan, and how much the United States relies on Japan, which dominates the American electronics industry.

Finally, they meet with U.S. Senator, John Morton, who is a potential presidential candidate in the upcoming elections. They also learn that Morton fiercely opposes the Japanese purchase of MicroCon, a small Silicon Valley company that manufactures machinery. At USC, Smith and Theresa deduce that Eddie had been set up by the Japanese who had altered the tapes. They undo the changes, discovering that Senator Morton was apparently the real killer and Eddie had been a witness. Connor and Smith return to Smith’s apartment, where they discover Eddie Sakamura, alive; the man who had actually been killed was a Japanese security officer named Tanaka who had been in Eddie’s garage, searching for the tapes, before panicking and fleeing in Eddie's car, which led to his death. The trio then confront Senator Morton, who confesses to his role in Cheryl Austin’s death. The senator then shoots himself in a bathroom. Soon afterward, an angry Ishiguro arrives to confront Eddie and the two detectives, making subtle threats to their lives. Strangely, Eddie reacts calmly, leading Connor to conclude afterward that Eddie still possesses an original copy of the tape from the security cameras. Smith and Connor then travel to Eddie’s home, where they find him tortured to death for the location of the stolen tape. Connor drops Smith off at his home.

Upon entering his apartment, Smith realizes that Eddie had left the tape there. Ishiguro's men arrive; he quickly orders his babysitter to hide his daughter and herself in the upstairs bedroom. Connor sneaks back to Smith’s apartment, carrying a bulletproof vest. The two detectives then engage in a gun battle with the thugs, and Smith is shot in the back, although his vest saves his life.

The next day, the two watch the tape that Eddie had left behind; Austin wasn't accidentally killed by Morton, but deliberately murdered by Ishiguro after Morton and Eddie left. They go to the Nakamoto Tower to apprehend Ishiguro, interrupting an important meeting. The detectives show the tape of the murder to the meeting attendees, and a shocked and angry Ishiguro commits suicide by jumping off the building. Having solved the mystery, Connor answers Smith’s questions before dropping him off at his apartment. The book then concludes with Smith’s statements about America’s future with Japan.

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