The Concubine's Tattoo (Sano Ichiro, Bk 4)
The Concubine's Tattoo - Sano Ichiro, Bk 4 Author:Laura Joh Rowland Twenty months spent as the shogun's sosakan-sama--most honorable investigator of events, situations, and people--has left Sano Ichiro weary. He looks forward to the comforts that his arranged marriage promises: a private life with a sweet, submissive wife and a month's holiday to celebrate their union. However, the death of the shogun's favorite... more » concubine interrupts the couple's wedding ceremony and shatters any hopes the samurai detective had about enjoying a little peace with his new wife.
After Sano traces the cause of Lady Harume's death to a self-inflicted tattoo, he must travel into the cloistered, forbidden world of the shogun's women to untangle the complicated web of Harume's lovers, rivals, and troubled past, and identify her killer. To make matters worse, Reiko, his beautiful young bride, reveals herself to be not a traditional, obedient wife, but instead, a headstrong, intelligent, aspiring detective bent on helping Sano with his new case. Sano is horrified at her unladylike behavior, and the resulting sparks make their budding love as exciting as they mystery surrounding Lady Harume's death. Amid the heightened tensions and political machinations of feudal Japan, Sano faces a daunting complex investigation.« less
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.