December 6: Any Martin Cruz Smith fans out there?

Pearl Harbor on Dec. 6, 1941. Found this on the East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard FB page.

Call this a sneak attack, coming on the eve of the date that will live in infamy.

I just had to write down today’s date for some reason, and it got me to thinking about Martin Cruz Smith. Well, specifically, one of his less-known novels, December 6. You ever read it? Here’s a synopsis from Wikipedia:

In late 1941, Harry Niles owns a bar for American and European expatriates, journalists, and diplomats, in Tokyo’s entertainment district, called the “Happy Paris”. With only 24 hours until Japanese fighters and bombers attack Pearl Harbor, Niles has to consult with the local US ambassador, break up with a desperate lover, evade the police, escape the vengeance of an aggrieved samurai officer and leave the island, the exit points from which are all closed. Having grown up in Tokyo, Niles is fluent in the Japanese language and culture, and is highly streetwise.[2][3]

In other words, he’s streetwise for a gaijin, which is a word that comes up frequently in the book as Japanese folk interact with him. But it’s been awhile since I read it. I’ve never reread it as often as I have Rose and some of his Arkady Renko stories, especially Red Square. Although the one that pulled me and so many others toward his work was his amazingly brilliant first Renko story, Gorky Park.

So — are any of y’all fans? I’d like to have a discussion about his stuff sometime. The dude can tell a story. His characters are a bit repetitive — it’s like the same people crop up in both 1870s Lancashire and 1980s Russia — but he makes it work. It’s actually kind of fun to see a familiar character, just with a different name, show up in an entirely different situation…

3 thoughts on “December 6: Any Martin Cruz Smith fans out there?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author


    I wrote this around noon or even earlier, but only noticed a few minutes ago that I hadn’t posted it. So I kind of blew the Day Before angle.

    But it’s not as bad as it could be. It’s still just a little after 4 p.m. in Honolulu…

  2. Barry

    I was looking at Pearl Harbor on Google Maps earlier this week.

    Trying to work it out so my wife and I can travel to Hawaii this coming summer. I want to visit the memorial.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You know, I used to live there, and we would take visiting relatives around to see the sites, and my wife and I were there briefly in 2015, and I’ve often SEEN the memorial — but I don’t think I’ve ever taken the boat out and actually been ON the memorial. Although I’m not sure.

      But here’s a picture from the last time I was really close to it. It was when Burl was giving us the tour — not only of his museum, but of all of Ford Island — in 2015. (The island you see in the middle of the harbor in the photo at the top of the post is Ford.)

      My wife and Burl are standing by his car in the foreground. We’re standing within about 100 yards of the house that was used as John Wayne’s BOQ quarters in the movie, “In Harm’s Way“…


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