A high-tech American government spy unit orders a Japanese-descended cop/psychic troubleshooter to telepathically monitor and control a Chinese bureaucrat.
Kohno’s third installment of a paranormal-espionage series features “Yonsei” hero Jim Sato, a fourth-generation Japanese American lawman. Jim’s psychic powers increase when he’s paired with attractive, blond telepath Gilda Dobrowski (their close personal/professional bond is tolerated uneasily by his wife, Judy). Devoted to safety, duty, and the American way, Jim is nonetheless keenly aware of the racism ingrained in United States society, even at the covert defense/intelligence/ESP warrior agency StarCenter, which occasionally summons former Marine Jim and civilian Gilda for tasks. Now, the agency’s lab has an advanced computer, UB-X-00 (“Yuubee” to its proud creator). Top spy masters, eggheads, and the White House scheme to use the technology, assisted by Jim and Gilda, as a long-distance assassination weapon against America’s enemies. But after a test fails, the White wonks settle on destabilizing rival superpower China by remotely influencing a Communist insider to commit some rash act. The target: Wei Fangui, a minor Beijing intelligence bureaucrat, who is open to mental suggestion. Spending days infiltrating Wei’s head, Jim comes to respect the liberal-minded, widowed, single father, who has endangered himself by romancing a woman linked to the persecuted Falun Gong sect. But to the StarCenter bosses, Wei is just another “Chinaman” (the epithet gets repeated mercilessly) to be exploited and/or destroyed. Will Jim dare to defy the cruel mission plan? This material obviously trends close to the heart of the Japanese American author, who abandons the pulp-action trimmings of previous novels in the series to dwell at length on interior monologues and geopolitical, personal, and private ponderings—in many passages, this story may remind readers of the literary spycraft thrillers of John le Carré. While Wei concludes that monolithic Marxism is just another foreign devil ideology imperialistically imposed on China’s Confucian soul, the U.S. itself hardly has the moral high ground; the nation is being wracked by race riots, and Jim’s own nisei family suffered the wretched World War II internment camps courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt. A succinct page count compensates for the somewhat repetitive arguments, and Kohno, like his hero, finds a way out of the dilemma that is emotionally satisfying, if low on gunfire and explosions.
A thoughtful, absorbing SF tale that offers Chinese and American skulduggery and paranormal intrigue.