From the dustcover:
Every year the grunion--little silver fish--make their run along the San Diego coast. And every year the Hotel California, ready to celebrate anything, celebrates the fishy occasion. But this year the grunion don't run. Instead, a large gray whale washes up lifelessly on the beach. It's a bad omen. Soon a man is found dead in room 374.
Dr. Kingsbury was a sometime physician, sometime magician, and full-time debunker of frauds and fakes. Did somebody mention fakes? The Hotel California just happens to be hosting U.N.D.E.R., the Union of Near-Death Experiences Retreat. It doesn't take former surfer and current hotel detective Am Caulfield long to realize that Kingsbury did not die of natural causes. Instead he was murdered--and one of the near deathers was the likely killer.
Kingsbury's cryptic last words were "Be Positive". At the Hotle California it is a difficult time for optimism. The Japanese have taken over, and the hotel's new owner, Hiroshi Yamada (known to his employees as "The Fat Inkeeper"), has everyone on tenterhooks. With East meeting West, signs of strain are showing. Someone has booked a convention of swingers into the hotel, and soemone else is going around hiring people to fill one very occupied position.
Altogether, things are entirely out of control. With a savvy woman reporter nosing around, Am Caulfield knows he must act swiftly. So does the Fat Inkeeper. According to Yamada, Am isn't a hotel detective anymore. He is a samurai: instead of catching a wave he has to catch a murderer!
The fat inkeeper is Hiroshi Yamada. The innis the posh, very expensive Hotel California, and the problem is everything. Am Caufield, new head of security, must deal with a debunker of near-death experiences, who turns up dead, a dead whale, and a convention of sex swingers. Now his boss wants him to become a samurai!