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Clouds Over Mountains by Matt Joseph
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Clouds Over Mountains

by Matt Joseph

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Recently added byCherylk, SamSattler, SleepyReader

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Ok, so what gets your attention more quickly and faster than a dead body? That’s how Clouds Over Mountains starts. Perry Mason goes in front of the civilians and Navy officers to re-account his story of what happened that night. Perry tells them that it was a foggy evening when Seaman Franks shouts that he spotted something propped up on the dock. When Perry and Franks go to investigate what was on the dock to their surprise they find the body of a man.

Koji Imaichi wants to figure out why Navy pilot Yasuo Saito so many years ago disappeared, especially after surviving the attack by the Americans on the Navy carrier Akag at Midway. So Imaichi, an ex-cop decides to pose as a reporter to get answers from Saito. The problem is when Imaichi shows up at Saito’s doorstep in Japan; Saito gets scared and runs away. The chase is on now. Imaichi follows Saito from Japan to his childhood home and finally to Hawaii. Just when Imaichi thinks he has lost track of Saito a new twist gets thrown in the mix and you won’t believe what it is!

When I read the book summary and concept for Clouds Over Mountains I was very interested. I didn’t realize through that Clouds Over Mountains would be better than it sounded. The characters were great as well as the storyline. Plus I didn't figure out what the secret was that Saito was hiding till Mr. Joseph wanted the reader to learn it. I do have to admit that when I first picked up this book I was like ok so it might take me a while to finish reading Clouds Over Mountains but it moved so fast and smooth that I had more trouble putting it down than I did picking it up. A big credit to this fact is Mr. Joseph’s writing style. Also when I found out this was Matt Joseph’s first novel; I was like I hope there is more to come ( )
  Cherylk | Jul 12, 2008 |
The December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was one of the pivotal events of American history, an event that not only changed the course of World War II but also greatly impacted the futures of America and Japan for generations to come. In Clouds Over Mountains, author Matt Joseph revisits that tragic day from both the American and Japanese points-of-view.

Yasuo Saito, who became one of Japan’s finest wartime pilots despite his humble beginnings in rural Japan, has lived with what he considers to be a shameful secret for almost fifty-three years. He lived a quiet, self-contained life all those years but, fearing that his secret is about to be exposed, he decides that personal honor and loyalties require him to return to Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor one last time.

Margaret Roberts, one of the FBI’s most successful female agents ever, has reached the point in late 1998 of being considered for the agency’s top spot, a mixed blessing because of the personal embarrassment resulting from the media investigation into her past and qualifications for the job. Roberts, hoping to relieve some of the tremendous stress she is under, looks to a few days in Hawaii as the way to go but finds herself there when an unusual crime makes headlines around the world: a body has been found on the U.S.S. Arizona memorial with bloody footprints leading away from it. Because of the location of the crime scene, the FBI assumes jurisdiction over the investigation and Roberts is immediately in the thick of things.

Clouds Over Mountains is an intriguing mystery, one that keeps the reader guessing for a while, but its real strength is that it is a strong character-driven mystery and not just a simple whodunit. Yasuo Saito is old-school when it comes to issues of personal honor and he has struggled for most of his life to reconcile himself to a decision that he made during the war. Through Saito’s efforts to explain the life that he has lived for the last five decades, the reader is taken inside a pre-World War II Japanese society very different from the modern Japan we know today. It is an interesting look at what American history will always characterize as a “sneak attack” from the viewpoint of those responsible for the attack and a reminder that both sides suffer greatly during any armed conflict.

Clouds Over Mountains is about family loyalties, patriotism, personal honor and shame, and desire for atonement. As in the best fiction of this type, history is simply the backdrop used to share the lessons learned by those who were there to experience it. This one took me to a world I was not at all familiar with, and I’m glad I made the trip.

Rated at: 4.0 ( )
  SamSattler | May 27, 2008 |
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 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. ( )
  SleepyReader | May 6, 2008 |
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