Set in the samurai court of 17th century Japan, this novel has well developed characters and an absorbing plot. It centers on Sano, a warrior turned detective and his wife Reiko. They are investigating a case that involves arson, murder and a sect that performs hedonistic rituals. Mystery and historical fiction readers will love it!
This is the 6th book in the Sano Ichiro Mystery Series and where I began, however, if you are starting this series begin with first two books, "Shinju" or "Bundori." These earlier books focus more closely on Sano Ichiro. Can read books out of order and still enjoy.
This book draws much more on Lady Reiko, Sano's very atypical Japanese wife, to solve the mystery. She entered the stories more fully at book four, "The Concubine's Tattoo." By combining this semi-liberated independent minded Lady Reiko as another narrative viewpoint to Sano Ichiro stories, Rowland changes flow of storyline to include issues of husband and wife domestic issues (I.e. kids, jealousy, child care.)
Depending how you like Lady Reiko as main character, this is either a fresh addition or unlikely evolution given Japanese setting of Sano Ichiro mystery. The characters seem more Western, Lady Reiko emerges like modern woman selectively acting through traditional Japanese role. Ichiro in turn is less alpha male samurai and more the sensitive democratic open-minded liberal male.
This book was actually more interesting than I thought. However, it doesn't have an Asian feel to it. It's more western in how it deals with things, in the use of language. But it's still extremely interesting and suspensful.
One of the more complicated plots in the series so far, but well carried off by Rowland, with all the usual historical details that are among the notable virtues of this series. The internal Tokugawa court intrigues are less prominent in this novel, and the new relationship between samuri detective Sano Ichiro and his dynamic young wife take center stage. The evil Black Lotus religious cult offers plenty of mysteries for the Japanese Sherlock and his new bride Watson.
Ms. Rowland continues the enthralling saga of Sano Ichiro, the special investigator for the capricious and dangerous Tokugawa shogun. This time he is embroiled in the deadly doings of a rogue Taoist sect resposnsible for a myriad of secret crimes as well as the intention of overthrowing the shogunate. The deceptive sect is supported by many of the powerful in governnment. As if that weren't impediment enough, Sano's rivals and enemies do everything in their power to prevent him from succeeding in order to curtail his rise in the shougun's esteem. When his lovely wife insists on getting involved in his work Sano worries for her safety and the endurance of their shaky marriage.
A quick-moving plot, several unforgettable characters, and hair-raising adventure are the trademarks of this series, and will keep readers coming back for more.
These books are fast paced with an impeccable view of ancient Japan's power struggles large and small. Society in old Japan is set out in a riveting narrative and I can never put one down once I start. Great variety in each book - never a recycled plot line. Love them!!