Clouds Over Mountains
by Matt Joseph

"Mine is a simple act by a simple man who had joy in his life and suffered pain."

This ambitious debut thriller poignantly portrays the lives of Japanese and Americans affected at great personal cost by the military attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The skillfully interwoven character narratives begin nearly sixty years later with an FBI interrogation of a United States Navy officer who discovers a body on the USS Arizona Memorial's landing dock. Each subsequent chapter cleverly reveals a bit more information about this mysterious, elderly man until it is clear he was one of a handful of surviving Japanese naval pilots. Yatsuo Saito lives a quiet life, unmarried and childless, until his many secrets and personal tragedies propel him to his premature death in 1998.

Saito's participation in the Pearl Harbor attack and his lifelong admiration of American pilot Charles Lindbergh lead him to Lindbergh's gravesite in rural Hawaii. His final act at the memorial acknowledges the scores of American warriors entombed in the waters of Pearl Harbor. Saito reveals his heart and his true identity in his intimate journals about life in pre-war, wartime, and post-war Japan that he leaves as a tribute at Lindbergh's gravesite.

Joseph's novel is a rich and complicated story spanning decades and cultures. Beyond the sensitive, multidimensional portrayal of Japanese and American viewpoints of the Pacific conflict in WWII, the story features characters of color and strong female protagonists, both Japanese and American, in roles that move beyond the hardboiled white males typically portrayed in political and military thrillers. The well-rounded, twenty-first-century ambiance will please a diverse audience. At its heart, this antiwar story seeks the reconciliation of rifts between Japan and America and the healing of the abuses of Japanese Americans by the US government. Prominent also are themes of identity, friendship, familial harmony and disharmony, and the perennial tension between ideals and ambitions.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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