Author Peter Tasker paints a bleak and plausible picture of a near-future Japan in his new book Dragon Dance. The year is 2006. In the shadow of Mt. Fuji, there is uncharacteristic dissension among the usually taciturn Japanese. Homeless people aimlessly wander the streets of Tokyo, and crime runs rampant. China is beginning to replace Japan as the premier mover and shaker of Asia, and the carefully woven treaties between the U.S. and Japan are beginning to unravel. French reporter Martine Meyer, stationed at the Tokyo office of an international newspaper, receives the assignment to interview a wildly popular new politician, Tsuyoshi Nozawa, a charismatic Dylan-esque folksinger who has ascended to Japan's senate, the Diet. In the midst of the proceedings, Martine receives an unusual e-mail warning her away from a particular part of town; a second suggests that she avoid orange juice for a while. When a deadly explosion takes place, and there is widespread panic over poisoned OJ, Martine realizes she is unwittingly at the center of an international conspiracy designed to make major alterations in the world order.

Dragon Dance succeeds on many levels. Tasker's novel cleverly offers romance, more than a bit of sexual tension, a fascinating mystery and a compelling tale of the Byzantine relationships that characterize international coexistence.

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