In this, the eighth book in the Rei Shimura series, Rei finds herself able to return to her beloved Japan at the behest of the U.S. government. Her task is to locate and authenticate an ancient pitcher from the Middle East that has disappeared from the national museum in Iraq. Her contacts believe that her former boyfriend, Takeo Kayama, has been given the pitcher by his fiancee's father as an engagement gift.

Rei arrives in Japan just as a typhoon hits, and the resulting dampness is an apt metaphor for this waterlogged novel. Rei is, at best, a barely competent sleuth who, more often than not, falls into situations where she can ask leading questions. For someone who has supposedly spent a good deal of time living and working in Japan, Rei has a curiously dull sense of appropriate etiquette and humiliates herself on a number of occasions.

Fans of the series may enjoy this book, but the unlikely plot and narcissistic heroine will probably turn off new readers. (Oct., 320 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs