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John Putnam Thatcher's 21st adventure (his first since 1988's Something in the Air ) takes the senior banking executive from the Sloan Guaranty Trust building in Manhattan on evenly paced travels to Japan, Alaska and England. Lackawanna Electric Industries, rebounding from bankruptcy under the forceful leadership of Carl Kruger, is about to pull off a distribution coup with Yonezawa Trading, one of Japan's largest corporations. Thatcher is present at the Tokyo signing, which is delayed by the discovery of a murdered accountant in Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Investment and a note suggesting a $1-million bribe. Business interests collide with political issues as the success of Lackawanna hangs in the balance. Changes in Japanese traditions are probed and suspicion falls on a Yonezawa rival; other factions vested in Lackawanna's fate include a group of old political hands in Washington, D.C.; officers of a robotics firm recently purchased by Kruger; and, of course, the CEO's inner circle. While the characterization is flatter than in earlier series entries, the plot here is dense and satisfying, and the tone reliably knowledgeable of modern business mores.