17/series starring Sano Ichiro, the Emperor's investigator. After the 1705 earthquake and fire that destroys Edo (Tokyo), the Tokugawa shogun's daughter dies of smallpox. The upheaval that follows allows Ichiro's arch-enemy, the evil and ambitious Yanagisawa to propel his son forward as the shogun's son, and the easily-led shogun (who prefers men) agrees. The following purge removes not only Ichiro from his position, but scores of others including his own son. When the shogun's mother begs Ichiro to prove that the daughter wasn't murdered, he risks both family and honor to follow all clues to their end. As always, Rowland writes knowingly and simply of the torturous world of feudal Japan, and the mystery is well-paced. Too bad the side story was left openly dangling, a tarnished lure. It's a 3.
Find the author at www.laurajohrowland.com
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