What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Coudal Partners

December 6
by Martin Cruz Smith

Field-Tested by Edgar Coudal

in Siesta Key, Florida

There are certain people you’d like to have with you late at night in places you probably shouldn’t be. Rick Blaine. Mike Hammer. Trinity. Archie Goodwin. Now you can add Harry Niles. He’s the hero of December 6, Martin Cruz Smith’s novel of that day in the life of an American abroad in Tokyo in 1941. Harry came, and probably went, because Smith has only reprised one hero—Arkady Renko, the Russian detective in Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square, and Havana—but he let fascinating stars like Joe Pena and Youngman Duran caper in the footlights of Stallion Gate and Nightwing, then return to Central Casting. Gaijin Harry Niles, more Japanese than sashimi, bonsai, and Mt. Fuji, manages a love affair with the mesmerizing Michiko, who may be a traditional Geisha, but is certainly Record Girl in top hat, sequined jacket, and long black stockings (Harry Niles understands important things about women. With Michiko about to blow herself away, Harry spins up Mood Indigo, gathers her, and muses, “A person couldn’t shoot herself and dance...the great thing about Mood Indigo was that a couple couldn’t dance too slowly.”), is irresistible and smarter than Bond, shows a sweet spot when situations unwind at the end, and offers advice to the arch-villain Japanese colonel who is puzzled because the Rising Sun cannot defeat those pesky Chinese.

The colonel complains, “The problem is, we have won decisive battle after decisive battle and nothing is decided…” Harry Niles suggests: “There’s always the option of sanity, declaring yourself winners and coming home.” It is the precursor to his later statement that “a smart man always knows where the exit is.”

Edgar Coudal is a former newspaperman, adman, and writer who now does pretty much as he pleases on Siesta Key in Florida.

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