Sano Ichiro, the formidable hero of Laura Joh Rowland's series of ancient Japan, does it again. This time he not only has to investigate the death of a high official, he has to do it under the guard of the two factions who are in the midst of a civil war. The Perfumed Sleeve not only gives glimpses of the history of Japan, it also keeps the reader guessing as to who was responsible for the murder and has a surprise ending as to how it was done. Good reading as all of Ms. Rowland's books are.
I read Laura Joh Rowland's "Sano Ichiro" series first and foremost for the cultural and historical tidbits she includes in each mystery. Living in Japan, this series makes learning about my host nation fun and entertaining as opposed to dry history books. I enjoy Sano's humility, his sense of honor and fairness, and his devotion to his family. The mysteries always have a few unexpected twists and always include foreshadowing the next book.
Laura Joh Rowland series of mysteries, set in 17th Century Togugawa Japan, continue to improve. Her plot in "The Perfumed Sleeve" is just as complex and baffling as usual, but her characters have grown in maturity and wisdom--they are adding more to the plot and distracting less from it. This novel is tightly paced and as intriguing as any in the series, but the most enjoyable for me so far because the characters now flow as smoothly as the action. While all her Sano Ichiro mysteries are a pleasure to read, this and her first novel in the series ("Shinju") are my favorites.