Black Lotus - Sano Ichiro, Bk 6 Author:Laura Joh Rowland When veteran samurai-detective Sano Ichiro, the most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, is called on to investigate the burning of a cottage belonging to the Black Lotus Temple, he makes a shocking discovery. The three victim of the blaze did not die in the fire, but were brutally murdered before the fire even began. With ... more »a triple homicide on his hands, Sano's search for a killer leads him to Haru, an orphan girl found at the scene of the crime. But Sano's wife, Reiko, investigating the case against Sano's wishes, is convinced of Haru's innocence.
Reiko's investigation leads her behind the walls of the Black Lotus Temple, where she discovers a sect involved in extortion, prostitution, and hedonistic rituals. Could one of the sect's members be the killer? Now Reiko must risk her marriage to Sano in order to prove Haru's innocence... Set in the luscious finery of the samurai court of medieval Japan, this latest installment in the bestselling series by Laura Joh Rowland is filled with shocking surprised and suspense as readers are once again allowed access into the world of Sano Ichiro.« less
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.
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!
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.