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Otani Books In Order

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Publication Order of Tetsuo Otani Books

By: James Melville, Hampton Charles
The wages of Zen (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Chrysanthemum Chain (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Sort of Samurai (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ninth Netsuke (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sayonara, Sweet Amaryllis (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death of a Daimyo (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Go Gently, Gaijin (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Kimono for a Corpse (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Reluctant Ronin (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Haiku for Hanae (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bogus Buddha (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Body Wore Brocade (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Death Ceremony (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon

The Otani series is a wonderful series of mystery, Japanese culture, thriller, and crime fiction novels. It consists of a total of 13 novels released between 1979 and 1992. The series is written by a well known English novelist named Roy Peter Martin under the pen name of James Melville. Each and every book of this series features the main protagonist in the role of Tetsuo Otani, who is depicted as a Superintendent of Police from Kobe, Japan. James Melville wrote and published one novel featuring Tetsuo Otani every year starting from 1979. Throughout the course of the book series, James Melville has used the meticulous investigations of Tetsuo Otani for providing a revealing portrait of the society in Japan which is caught between the relentless speed of modernization and strict traditions.

Tetsuo Otani is shown joining the police force of the Hyogo Prefectural Police at a time when America occupies Japan following the war. So, he seems to be well aware of the fact that policing has undergone a lot of change over the years. He thinks that people of his generation know it very well how police used to work before the Americans took control of the country. For carrying out the investigations, Tetsuo Otani supervises with the help of a team of trusted, colorful, and streetwise detectives. His investigations usually begin as a murder mystery and go on to reveal political duplicity and organized crime taking place on a large scale.

Some important characters other than Tetsuo Otani mentioned by James Melville in the books include David Murrow, Andrew Walker, Cleo Ventura, Hanae, Shigeru Murakami, Kimura, etc. Most of the murdered victims are depicted to be foreigners, who come to Kobe on some personal or business matters. The subsequent investigation of the mysteries behind their murders takes Tetsuo Otani to different places outside Kobe and also to foreign countries likes Germany, England, Manila, etc. Also, Tetsuo Otani is required to work with other police officials and organizations like the Scotland Yard. Due to a number of exciting literary factors, every book of this series provides an excellent story for the readers. They have been read throughout the world and liked by numerous readers as well as critics.

James Melville is the pseudonym of a well known English writer Roy Peter Martin. He was very popular for writing detective fiction, historical fiction, and Japanese culture novels. Roy was born on January 5, 1931, in London and died on March 23, 2014. He used to write all his literary work primarily under the pen names of Hampton Charles and James Melville. Roy was educated at Birkbeck College in philosophy. Before taking up writing as a career, Roy Martin worked for the Royal Air Force. His next job was on the post of a diplomat as a part of the British Council in Japan. It was during his stay in Japan that Roy showed a keen interest in learning about the culture of Japan. Subsequently, he was able to create the fictional character of Tetsuo Otani and write novels based on it. Roy’s historical novel, The Imperial Way, is inspired by Japan’s February 26 Incident. As Hampton Charles, Roy has written three books based on the character of Miss Seeton. Later, Roy collaborated with his second wife named Joan Martin to write a cookbook called Japanese Cooking. The Chrysanthemum Throne is a book written by Roy Peter Martin describing the history of the imperial family of Japan. It was released in the UK in 1997 and sometime later in the US. Roy was best known for his superb storytelling and providing fascinating insights into the modern life of Japan in his books.

A popular novel of the Otani series written by author James Melville is entitled ‘The Ninth Netsuke’. It was first published in 1982 and was later republished by the Fawcett publication in 1986. The story opens by describing that the Fantasia Hotel is famous for providing rooms on an hourly basis. Its Sweet Harmony Room is the most favorite among the customers because of its mirrored ceiling, emerald toiled bathroom and a video tape recorder. Things take an unexpected turn when Cleo Ventura is found brutally murdered in the same room. When Tetsuo Otani is asked to reach the crime scene and investigate the matter secretly, he takes his wife Hanae along in order to avoid any suspicion from the hotel staff. He comes across a tiny ivory figure called ‘netsuke’ in the room.

The appearance of the netsuke makes it clear that it is very old and highly valuable. Tetsuo Otani takes the netsuke to file it as evidence. His subsequent investigation goes on to reveal a big scandal at the national level. Tetsuo Otani learns that the netsuke originally came in a set of 9 similar figures each of which represented a Greek muse. Seven of them are held as National Treasures and the eighth one is found by Tetsuo Otani. He begins to look for the ninth one for solving the murder mystery, but Hanae requests him to leave the investigation because she fears about the danger to his life. She senses the involvement of dark entities in this matter that makes her quite fearful. But, Tetsuo Otani decides to continue investigating the case until he has found the culprit and the 9th netsuke.

Another mind-blowing novel of the series is known as ‘Death of a Daimyo’. It was also released by Fawcett in 1986. This novel begins by showing that Tetsuo Otani finally decides to go on vacation that was long overdue. At the request of his wife, he sets off for England to meet his daughter & son-in-law. Tetsuo Otani’s hopes of having a peaceful vacation turn into another investigation when he learns about the murder of a well known Japanese philanthropist named Shigeru Murakami. The fatal incident occurs at the Cambridge University ceremony, where Otani was expected to be present.

The connection makes him wonder if he was supposed to be the victim instead of Shigeru Murakami. Back in Japan, the godfather of a crime syndicate is on his deathbed and has not named his successor yet. Because of this, tension is mounting of the streets of Japan among the rival groups. Tetsuo Otani suspects that Shigeru Murakami’s murder is somehow related to the godfather supreme daimyo’s silence about his successor. He soon finds himself embroiled in the investigation of Scotland Yard. Tetsuo Otani seems worried that there is not much time left to prevent massive bloodshed and he must head back to Japan to take quick action.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Otani

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