Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Fire Kimono-Laura Joh Rowland

The Fire Kimono
Laura Joh Rowland
Minotaur, Sep 29 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312588861

In 1700 supporters of Lord Matsudaira almost kill Lady Reiko during an attack on her. Chamberlain Sano Ichiro is outraged on the assault of his beloved wife and vows vengeance against his despicable rival Matsudaira although his adversary denies any involvement.

However, the samurai has to put aside his growing suspicion that a third party attacked his wife when the Shogun orders Sano to investigate the finding of a body buried near a Shinto shrine. Items uncovered next to the corpse imply the deceased is the Shogun’s cousin who vanished without a trace four decades ago during an inferno that devastated much of Edo. As the husband and wife investigative team probe the case in which the shogun concedes reluctantly three days to them, they find evidence that implicates Sano’s mother Etsuko with the murder.

THE FIRE KIMONO is one of the best Ichiro Japanese historical thrillers, which says a lot as this long running saga is known for its consistent excellence. The story line contains two strong twists, but it is the second one that shocks the samurai hero as his belief system is torn asunder with what he learns about his mother. Fans will enjoy this super entry as Sano and Reiko have three days to prove his mom was not the bearer of the deadly FIRE KIMONO who killed the shogun’s cousin and destroyed Edo; but every clue seems to lead to the conclusion she is.

Harriet Klausner

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