Rising Sun is a 1992 internationally best-selling novel by Michael Crichton about a murder in the Los Angeles headquarters of Nakamoto, a fictional Japanese corporation. The book was published by Alfred A. Knopf.
Although a detective/murder mystery novel at first glance, Rising Sun deals with the controversial subject of Japanese-American relations, and questions the premise that foreign direct investment in the high-technology sectors of the United States is beneficial. Throughout the book, the differences between the Japanese and Western mindsets are highlighted, especially in the areas of business strategy and corporate culture.
Nakamoto Corporation is celebrating the grand opening of its new headquarters, the Nakamoto Tower, in Los Angeles; the office building is awash with celebrities, dignitaries and local politicians. On the 46th floor of the very same building, Cheryl Lynn Austin, 23, is murdered. Lieutenant Peter Smith, the Special Services Liaison for the LAPD
, is assigned to this case. He is joined by retired Captain John Connor who has lived in Japan
for a while and is thoroughly accustomed to Japanese culture
Upon arriving at Nakamoto Tower, it soon becomes clear to the two law enforcers that the Japanese, led by Nakamoto employee Ishigura, were stalling with the investigation. The mystery deepens once the detectives realize that the tapes from the security cameras on the Forty-sixth floor have mysteriously disappeared and the security guards refuse to provide any aid to the investigation. Lieutenant Smith and Connor then visit the apartment of the late Ms. Austin, quickly realizing that she was in reality a mistress for the Japanese Yakuza. However, even more ominously, it seems that Ms Austin's home had recently been ransacked no more than half an hour after her untimely death. After several visits to friends and associates of Ms Austin and Nakamoto, the two detectives are able to quickly pin the crime on Eddie Sakumura, a wealthy Japanese playboy from Kyoto. However, despite apprehending Sakumura at a nearby party, the two are inclined to release him, due to Eddie's previous associations with John Connor.
The two law enforcers are then summoned to witness the autopsy of the late Ms Austin at a nearby medical institude. After witnessing the dissection, Smith and Connor are suddenly approached by Ishigura, the Nakamoto employee who had initially stalled their investigation, who now presented them with seemingly authentic videos from the security cameras, showing Eddie to be the true murderer. Having solved the mystery, Connor returned home to rest, while Smith and fellow law enforcement agent Graham went to apprehend Sakumura. Unfortunately, upon arriving at Eddie's house, the two detectives are stalled by two women, while Eddie made his escape in a Vector W8. After a short high speed chase around the neighborhood, Eddie's Vector W8 crashes on a highway, seemingly killing Eddie.
The next day, the newspaper runs editorials, criticizing Smith, Graham, and Connor’s actions as racist and accuses them of police brutality. Soon afterwards, Smith receives a phone call from the Chief, announcing that the investigation was officially over. However, Lieutenant Smith isn’t so sure, and he decides to take the tapes to USC, in order to make copies. There Smith meets the beautiful 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 laboratories, the two detectives are offered lucrative offers from the Japanese; including a membership at an expensive golf club and extremely low priced real estate offers. They then visit and consult the companies and industries involved with Nakamoto, in order to learn more about the motives about the killer. 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 relied on Japan which dominated the American electronics industry.
Finally, they visit Senator Morton who is a possible presidential candidate in the upcoming elections. They also learn that Morton fiercely opposes the Japanese purchase of MicroCon, small Silicon Valley company manufacturing machinery. Eventually, they return to USC, where Connor and Theresa are able to quickly deduce that Eddie had been set up by the Japanese who had edited the tapes. They then undid the changes, only to discover that Senator Morton was apparently the real killer. The duo then returns to Smith’s apartment where they discover that Eddie was indeed alive; the man who had actually been killed was a Japanese photographer named Tanaka who had been in Eddie’s garage, searching for the tapes before panicking and taking off in the Ferrari, leading to his untimely death. The trio then goes to confront Senator Morton who reacts calmly and confesses to his role in Cheryl Austin’s death. The senator then walks calmly upstairs where he commits suicide with a pistol in the bathroom. Soon afterwards, an angry Ishigura arrives to confront Eddie and the two detectives, making subtle threats to their lives. Strangely, Eddie reacts calmly, leading Connor to conclude that he still possessed an original copy of the tape from the security cameras. Smith and Connor immediately travel to Eddie’s home where they find his corpse floating in the swimming pool. The duo then leaves the scene of the crime and Connor drops off Smith at his home. Upon entering his apartment, Smith realizes that Ishigura men were waiting for him outside; he quickly ordered his maid to hide his daughter and herself in the upstairs bedroom.
It would have been the end for the police lieutenant had Connor not sneaked back to Smith’s apartment, carrying a bulletproof vest. The two detectives then engage in a gun battle with the thugs waiting outside and Smith is shot in the back, although his vest managed to save his life. The next day, the two detectives watch the tape that Eddie had left behind in his apartment; the tape showing that Ishigura had in fact been the real murderer, while Morton had been innocent. They then rushed to Nakamoto Towers to apprehend Ishigura, interrupting an important meeting. The detectives show the tape of the murder to the rest of the Nakamoto employees, while a shocked and angry Ishigura commits suicide by jumping off the building, into the wet cement below. 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.
Characters in Rising Sun
- Lieutenant Peter Smith — Special Services Officer assigned to this case. He is a divorced father with a two-year-old daughter named Michelle.
- Lieutenant Tom Graham — LAPD Homicide detective. Graham and Smith were once partners in the LAPD. Tom is on the scene of a murder at the opening party for the new Nakamoto Tower in downtown LA, but some of the Japanese nationals at the event ask for the assistance of the Special Services Liaison—Lieutenant Smith at the present moment—and so Tom calls Pete for help.
- Fred Hoffman — watch commander at DHDdowntown. After Tom has called, but before actually rolling out, Fred calls Pete and suggests that he get the assistance of semi-retired Captain John because Pete's only been on the job six months and it's a big event.
- Captain John Connor — Semi-retired officer, on indefinite leave. Helped the department solve an important case involving Japanese nationals years before, and was subsequently invited to Japan for private security work for a while, but returned. In the 1960's became the first LAPD officer to speak fluent Japanese, despite LA's status as the largest Japanese city outside the Japan home islands. He is alternately respected and disliked by Japanese who think he understands their culture or by westerners who think he understands all too much and is no longer a loyal American. The night of the murder is the first time he and Pete Smith have met. At Connor's suggestion, they adopt a sempai/kohai (senior/junior) relationship, meaning that Pete is apparently in charge, but upon an agreed signal Connor takes over and Smith fades into the background.
- Cheryl Austin — the murder victim. A Texas-born prostitute, party girl and one-time model in Japan, given to wearing Yamamato dresses. The discovery of her body on a boardroom table on the 46th floor of the Nakamoto Tower, one floor above the high-profile opening bash, is proximate cause of the police presence — and Ishiguro's high-hand playing of the race card has already prevented the crime scene team from taking possession of the crime scene nearly one hour after their arrival.
- Akira Tanaka — an officer of Nakamoto Security, who blithely takes digital camera footage of the crime scene while the police are still being held at bay. Later killed in a high-speed chase while driving Eddie Sakamura's car (see below).
- Masao Ishiguro — a junior executive of the Nakamoto Corporation; Ishiguro, despite speaking faultless American English, is the Japanese person who has called for the Special Liaison, claiming that Graham was behaving disrespectfully to numerous distinguished guests on the floor below where the body was discovered (including the Mayor, 2 US Senators and Pete's ex-wife). Pete quickly discerns that Ishiguro has no need of a "liaison" and is merely obstructing the investigation — suggesting that the dead girl is a "woman of no importance" — but Lieutenant Smith is little more successful than Graham in getting Nakamoto people under control until Connor steps in and uses some Japanese profanity to bring Ishiguro into line. Connor explains later to Lieutenant Smith that he did Ishiguro a favor by playing the out-of-control American, because Ishiguro was being monitored by his real boss who was likewise in the background exactly as Connor was initially.
- Eddie Sakamura — a wealthy Japanese pimp, son of a wealthy man in Japan who owes Connor a favor, small-time drug dealer, and promoter of the interests of his father's business empire in Japan, which are directly contrary to those of Nakamoto. Sakamura was at the party, and made off with a security tape which captured the murder, with the help of Tanaka. He becomes the first murder suspect when he brags about knowing the girl, his picture is found in Cheryl's room, and is later seen present at the scene on the camera (this later is seen to be an alteration). When police go to his house, his car becomes the target of a high-speed chase that ends in a crash which seemingly kills him, but the driver is later revealed to be Akira Tanaka. Sakamura himself later commits suicide, and it is then that Connor realizes who the guilty person is.
- Ellen Farley — Assistant to the Mayor, whom Pete Smith has been dating recently, who recognizes the dead girl but is unwilling to identify her.
- Jerome Phillips — junior Nakamoto Security man on duty at the time John and Pete start their investigation, but there's been a change of shift and Ted Cole should have been on shift before him, but Phillips cannot verify that because Cole left early. By engaging Phillips in apparently irrelevant conversation, and squeezing Pete in the shoulder extremely hard to prevent him from interfering, Connor learns that the tapes from the five separate advanced security cameras that were monitoring the murder scene had been switched. They are wireless and high resolution but don't record sound.
- Ted Cole — Smith and Connor track down Cole at the Palomino bar near LAX, where they secretly advise him to stay away from home for a few days, for his safety. Cole advises them, by way of a message on a napkin (as some Japanese bar patrons are eavesdropping) that Nakamoto/Ishiguro stole the security tapes.
- Sen. John Morton — a senator who protests the Japanese industries' influence in America. He turns out to be Cheryl's real lover.
- Professor Sanders — an imaging specialist, he and his student Theresa Asakuma discover a lot about the crime from the security cameras.
- Willy "The Weasel" Wilhelm — an unethical reporter covering the case; he is biased against the police. As Pete takes over the investigation, Wilhelm attempts to blackmail him by asking questions about the way he earned custody of his daughter. It is later revealed that he did this at the urging of Nakamoto personnel.
- Lauren Davis — Pete's former wife and mother of his daughter. Works for the District Attorney. Rarely shows concern for her daughter, and only when Wilhelm calls her does she reveal wishes to take custody of the girl.
- Elaine — Michelle's nanny; she hides Michelle while Pete is confronted by hitmen outside his home.
abridged the novel into an audiobook
read by Keith Szarabajka
, which ran approximately three hours.
The book was adapted into a film, the 1993 release Rising Sun starring Sean Connery as Connor, Wesley Snipes as Smith, Tia Carrere as Asakuma and Harvey Keitel as Graham. Several changes were made in adapting the story for the film. Caucasian Peter Smith was changed to African-American Webster ("Webb") Smith, Ishiguro became Ishihara, and Theresa became Jingo. Additionally, the identity of the murderer was changed from a Japanese character to an American one, and reflected in the solution to the film.