Clouds Over Mountains
Matt Joseph
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Buy *Clouds Over Mountains* by Matt Joseph online

Clouds Over Mountains
Matt Joseph
440 pages
May 2007
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Clouds Over Mountains is a sweeping novel that explores the lasting effects of events set in motion at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Spanning 50 years from both the Japanese and American perspectives, it encompasses a lot of material; a modern-day murder mystery ties the past and the present together.

When a murder takes place at the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, local law enforcement is called in to investigate. But before they can even examine the crime scene, they are placed on hold and the FBI is brought in. Maggie Roberts, who has paved the way for female FBI agents, is coming to the end of her career and in Hawaii for a breather before announcing her retirement. She gets the FBI task force set up and ready to go, then it seems she will fade into a minor character. However, it's her story that will bring the narrative full circle.

Meanwhile in Japan, a newsman has become interested in doing a story on Japanese fighter pilots from WWII. He hires private investigator Koji Imaichi, who gets a lead and begins pursuing the story of Yasuo Saito. Saito served in the Japanese Navy with his boyhood best friend, Babe. They grew up in the same remote village and despite the fact that Saito attains success through the educational track and his uncle's political connections and Babe works his way up through grit and determination, they maintain their close friendship aboard the carrier Akagi even though Saito is an officer and Babe is enlisted. During the events of the battle of Midway, the Akagi is hit and sinks. Only Saito emerges alive.

Clouds Over Mountains definitely covers a lot of ground, with myriad characters to remember as well as years of history. That said, I didn't have much trouble staying engaged or keeping track of the events. I did have some trouble with parts of the dialogue. The conversations between Imaichi and Hideo Shinada are strange and don't seem well-formed. At times it almost feels like reading a bad translation. Also, it's hard getting past Agent Bethany Swanson's Southern accent, which is overdone.

Still, Clouds Over Mountains is an enjoyable book. The author does a fine job of tying the events of the past and present together and showing how tragic the events of WWII were for both sides. This is an excellent choice for fans of historical fiction and those interested in WWII.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Amy Rowlison, 2008

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