The series of books I wrote about Masao Masuto, the Zen Buddhist detective on the Beverly Hills police force, were written during the six years I lived on a beautiful hillside above Beverly Hills. Some ten years prior to this time in California, I had taken up the study and practice of Zen Buddhism. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to write some books—entertainments, to use Graham Greene's phrase—about a Nisei detective on the police force of one of the wealthiest towns in America. He would be a Zen Buddhist, a modest man who lived in Culver City and worked in nearby Beverly Hills. He would think as a Buddhist thinks.
At that same time, I was working at the Paramount studio, and it was there that I heard the story of the rape of a young, eager actress. Do not judge either the studio where it happened—not at Paramount—or Hollywood by this incident. It happened; it can happen anywhere. But it gave me the idea for Samantha, the first of the Masao Masuto books.
Writing it was a therapeutic release from my more serious work, and I asked my literary agent to choose another name for its author—he chose "E. V. Cunningham." However, throughout Europe, where they became vastly popular, they were usually printed under my own name. It was great fun to write them, and I trust it will be equally amusing for you to read them.
Yet there is something more than mere entertainment in these tales of Masao Masuto. Years before, a Nisei woman had worked for me. She came to us from the World War II concentration camps of America, where people of Japanese ancestry had been interned. She was a delightful person, and from her I learned much of the life of Japanese-Americans. So when you step into the life of Masuto and the small cottage in Culver City, you also taste the life of a Nisei Zen Buddhist detective—a man who neither judges nor condemns the crime, but seeks only for the inner truth.
ibooks plans to continue the publication of the many books about Masuto, and you can look forward to them, and learn something, I hope, about the Japanese-Americans in California.