BOOKS: Burnt by the Rising Sun

December 6 is a hard-boiled mystery set in enemy territory--Japan on the eve of World War II

In a jingoistic, rabidly anti-American Eastern nation, a military coterie plans a devastating sneak attack on U.S. soil. If Martin Cruz Smith's suspenseful, surprisingly lyrical new novel were set in Afghanistan, it would have been called September 10. Instead we're in Japan, the year is 1941, and the book is December 6 (Simon & Schuster; 339 pages)--the day before Pearl Harbor.

Our hero is Harry Niles, a classic noir name if ever there was one, and Harry is an antihero par excellence. The son of American missionaries, he grew up on the streets of Tokyo and now runs a hip expatriate...

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