A high-finance, high-tech thriller that correctly predicted the 1987 stock market crash. It was the first fictional treatment of a major international concern of the Eighties. Set in locales as diverse as Wall Street and the offices of Japan's powerful Trade Ministry, THE SAMURAI STRATEGY describes a scenario of murder, worldwide currency manipulation, a revival of Japan's smoldering nationalism, and is set against a background of a new high-tech computer milieu. Matthew Walton, a freelance corporate 'takeover' lawyer is hired by a mysterious Japanese industrialist to purchase a New York office building and begin a massive 'hedging' in the financial markets. Two weeks later, off an island in the Inland Sea, divers working for the industrialist's organization, recover the original Imperial Sword, given to Japan's first Emperor by the Sun Goddess, Japan's 'Excalibur', and lost in a sea battle in 1185. He forms an '800-Year Fund' and billions of yen flow to his fingertips. He then dumps all the Treasuries Japan had acquired and devastates the American economy.
As the story rushes to its stunning conclusion, Matt Walton goes to Japan and determines that the 'Imperial Sword' is, in fact an unusual antique he once owned himself.
New York, New York. Friday, early September, dusk. Heading uptown on Madison. Sheets of icy rain washed the pavement, heralding the onslaught of autumn and the miserable winter to come. The city was poised for its cruelest months, that twilight of the spirit when strangers arm-wrestle for taxis, nobody has time to hold a door, and you cherish every fleeting human kindness.
Bring on the blizzards, the holiday madness. This winter I was planning something long overdue. To treat my daughter Amy, the Madame Curie of her ninth grade, to a real vacation. Just us. We'd leave at Thanksgiving and stay gone through the Christmas break. She got to live with me three months a year, and December was by God going to be one of the months. School? She'd already skipped a year; maybe she was a little too fast-track for thirteen.
Since Joanna, my ex, had already lined up her own holiday excursion (Amy the spy claimed it was with some divorced Tishman VP), she hadn't bothered inventing the usual roadblocks. Clear sailing. We'd open the house down in St. Croix and spend a month getting reacquainted. Work on the tan and some postgraduate snorkeling, a strategic move while I still enjoyed a small sliver of her attention, before a certain "totally terrific" skateboard virtuoso finally got around to noticing her. Only a couple of jobs needed finishing, but they'd be wrapped up with weeks to spare.
That night, in truth, had its moments of nostalgia. The destination was Sotheby's auction house, a place where Matthew Walton was greeted by name at the cashier's window. Home away from home for obsessive collectors. I leaned back against the vinyl seat of the Checker, letting the rhythm of the streetlight halos glimmer past, and reflected on all those happy nights I'd made the trek with Joanna. She'd had no real interest in my collecting hobby, Japanese samurai swords and armor, but she was always a decent sport about it.
Besides, she had her own passions. While I was agonizing over long blades and short blades, she'd sneak off and browse for something French and nineteenth century and expensive. Fact is, I'd usually plan ahead and have something of my own on the block just to pay for that little sketch, or print, she suddenly had to have. Out of habit I'd even shipped up a couple of mistakes for the auction this evening (a hand axe and a lacquered-metal face guard).
Though tonight's sale had only a few odd items in my specialty, the slim offerings actually suited the occasion. It left the evening open, time for the real agenda—getting things rolling with a new client who'd inexplicably handed me a job as simple as it was strange. The man, name of Matsuo Noda, had rung all the way from Japan Friday before last, introduced himself in generalities, then declared he had a pressing legal matter requiring both speed and confidentiality. Inquiries had led him to me. Would I have time to help him locate an office building to buy? He claimed he was head of a Kyoto consulting outfit that called itself Nippon, Inc., and he was looking for something in midtown, seventy-million range.
Honestly I couldn't quite believe he was serious at first. Why this job (just a little legwork, really) for somebody he'd never even met? I could swing it, sure, but now that Japanese investors were snapping up U.S. property right and left, who needed some ex-Texan turned New York lawyer knocking around? There was no rational reason to engage a corporate attorney.