The book begins in Edo, days after Sano Ichiro's return from Nagasaki, at the wedding between Ichiro and Ueda Reiko. The celebration is cut short when Harume, one of the shogun's concubines, runs out from the Large Interior into the procession of concubines and dies. Ichiro is charged by the shogun to discover the cause of her death, cutting short his expected month's vacation.
The book adds a number of characters to the growing cast of the series as well as continuing to develop previously established characters. Reiko is shown to be vibrant and assertive. She compliments Ichiro well and provides him with interesting challenges. Hirata's inferiority with woman of rank comes to light. Yanagisawa finds the love he always needed, though what he does with that love is an interesting matter. Midori, from Shinju, is reintroduced as an attendant in the Large Interior. Magistrate Ueda is shown to be a strong proponent for justice, but he has problems standing up to the demands of his daughter. Ryuko is a Buddhist priest who uses the Tokagawa bafuku to his own ends through the shogun's mother, Keisho-in, who may be a great fool or a cunning actress.
And these are just a few of the characters and portrayals. Each is distinct, allowing one to be distinguished from the other. I am interested to see what happens to this cast of characters over the next few books. If she continues to add, I am afraid that it may become unwieldy. I suppose I will have to read and find out.
The story is well paced, working out the conflict of Ichiro and Reiko's marriage, Hirata's struggle with Ichiteru - one of the suspects, and the overall investigation of the murder of Harume. The political tensions are much more present than in Way of the Traitor, returning to their previous levels, but Yanagisawa puts a new twist to his machinations and possibly brings about his own ruin.
The book is a great read, and it pulled me along strongly. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes period mysteries, the Japanese setting or a little political intrigue. I will be reading the next one soon.
Deb E. reviewed The Concubine's Tattoo (Sano Ichiro, Bk 4) on
Helpful Score: 3
I thought this book was somewhat captivating. There was definitely a mystery of "who done it" that left you guessing right up 'til the end. I appreciated the power that the author gave to Sano's wife. There any many sexually charged relationships in this book, some not for the closed minded. Over all, I couldn't put the book down and found that I truly enjoyed Sano, his wife and many of the characters in this book. I am anxious to read the other books in the series.
Kerry reviewed The Concubine's Tattoo (Sano Ichiro, Bk 4) on
Helpful Score: 1
This is Rowland's 4th book published in 1998.
I prefer these earlier books - Shinju (1994); Bundori (1996); The Way of the Traitor(1997); The Concubine's Tattoo(1998), The Samarai's Wife(2000). Like all series - they become predictable after awhile. I tend to prefer an unmarried Sano. They feel more western and less eastern after Sano marries.
The author maintains a personable website. At this time, she has some of her photos from her recent trip to China. http://www.laurajohrowland.com/books.html The Internet has made learning about authors a piece of cake.
When a 17th-century shogun's favorite concubine suddenly dies, it falls to his chief investigator, Sano Ichiro, to discover how and why. Sano must interrupt his plans for a honeymoon; contend with an educated, wayward, and sleuthing wife; foil the wily machinations of his evil arch-nemesis (second-in-command to and longtime lover of the shogun); and still keep peace with his pusillanimous employer.