Picks and Pans Review: Love and Infamy

updated 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Frank Deford

World War II is raging in Europe but not yet in the Pacific when two lifelong friends meet for a little R&R in Hawaii. The American, Cotton Drake, is heading back to Japan, where he was raised as the son of Christian missionaries. His Japanese "brother," Kiyoshi, is about to go to work for a top-secret wing of the Japanese army in Hawaii. Obviously—at least to readers who know what the events of Dec. 7, 1941, will bring—their relationship is about to change forever.

In this novel, the plot twists are unremarkable—even Cotton's supposedly shocking relationship with Miyuki, Kiyoshi's wife, is telegraphed from her first appearance, and his writing is strictly basic English comp. Still, Deford has carefully researched his subject. His most striking passages describe the culturally conditioned behavior of the mid-century Japanese and the kind of racism the war seemed to sanction in white America. For those insights and perceptions alone, Love and Infamy is a worthwhile read. (Viking, $24)

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