Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Book Review of The Concubine's Tattoo (Sano Ichiro, Bk 4)

The Concubine's Tattoo (Sano Ichiro, Bk 4)
Pattakins avatar reviewed on + 365 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3

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.

Want fewer ads?