Rising Sun begins in the eyes of Lt. Peter Smith. He is sitting down with his child until he is interrupted by a phone call: He is told to go to downtown Los Angeles (close to where he lives) and investigate a murder. On the way, an anonymous phone call tells him to pick up a retired police officer, Captain John Conner. He does this and continues to the scene of the crime where he starts the investigation. It turns out, a young attractive white woman was murdered in an upstairs room--inside a Japanese owned building--while a huge Hollywood-type party was going on downstairs. Eventually, Smith decides it is best to stay with the older and wiser Conner--a man who once was a liaison to the Japanese. After starting the investigation, the pair get led on many leads that takes them everywhere in Los Angeles. In fact, their own lives become at stake at one point. I will not reveal the ending, which is obviously important in a mystery story.
Some people have called into question Michael Crichton's view of the Japanese after releasing this novel. Yes, it appeared on the surface that his views bordered on prejudice. That is, unless you choose to look deeper into what Crichton is trying to do here. He did not stereotype the Japanese people in this book at all. He was generalizing on the way the Japanese conduct business, not the whole general populace. It's no secret that the those in the Japanese culture take their business ventures--as well in most things they do--very seriously. This story was merely playing on this fact based within a fictional setting.
As far as the story itself, it does begin very fast-paced--but slows down in the middle when Crichton (once again!) uses his characters to teach the reader about the Japanese ways, rather than focusing on the story. Of course, if you have read more than one Crichton book, you come to expect an ignorant character so everyone else can explain things to him (and us, by extension).
The ending, however, picks up the pace and is very intriguing with a few surprises along the way. It is difficult to predict.
As far as the book being written in the first person in the eyes of Lt. Peter Smith, this was unique for Crichton (at this point in his career). It definitely helps with the character development of Smith. Captain Conner was a very good addition to the story as well. This man a genius!
Overall, if you can get past the foul language in this book--this book went over the top in this regard--and if you are open minded and will not question Crichton's view on the business tactics of the Japanese, then you will enjoy this plot. Even though it is only a simple mystery novel.