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Sano Ichiro Series

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The 17 books in the series are:

  1. Shinjū 
  2. Bundori 
  3. The Way of the Traitor
  4. The Concubine's Tattoo
  5. The Samurai's Wife 
  6. Black Lotus
  7. The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria
  8. The Dragon King's Palace 
  9. The Perfumed Sleeve 
  10. The Assassin's Touch
  11. The Red Chrysanthemum 
  12. The Snow Empress 
  13. The Fire Kimono 
  14. The Cloud Pavilion 
  15. The Ronin's Mistress 
  16. The Incense Game
  17. The Shogun's Daughter

 

I'm nearly at the end of the third one. Absolutely enjoying them. If you like a. detective stories b. historical books c. books about Asia these are for you. 

 

The books creep up on you. Halfway through the first one I started to think this is a bit simple, not very complex, bit boring .... but then it got more and more complex as it went and I was hooked by 3/4 of the way through.

 

You do have to read them in order as events build on the previous novels. 

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Shinju - Japanese word for lovers suicide pact. In the book two lovers commit suicide, or did they? We meet Sano Ichiro, son of a ronin, whose father has wangled him a job in the Edo Police. He isn't overwhelmed with joy, but duty to his father requires obedience. As the novel progresses he discovers that his passion for discovering the truth through study can also find expression in finding the truth through police investigation. Cheered by this new found interest in his new job he is determined to do his best even though the things he uncovers could endanger his future.

 

Bundori - to mount the head of an enemy for display. A serial killer stalks the streets of Edo, killing his enemies and mounting their heads as trophies in the ancient tradition of bundori. Sano Ichiro newly appointed Sosakan to the Emperor for his meritorious service in the first book has just 3 days to find the killer and bring him to justice. All the while avoiding the machinations of a powerful enemy he didn't know he had.

 

The Way of the Traitor - Sano Ichiro's enemy plots against him and sends him to Nagasaki into a trap. Will Sano uncover the traitors to the State and Emperor despite his own growing doubts? Can he save himself from the trap he has walked right into? 

 

The Concubines Tattoo - Just started this one. A concubine dies after tattooing herself (in a very painful place) with the kanji for love. A geisha's trick for impressing customers with her devotion. But this was a royal concubine. Can Sano Ichiro find the killer and avoid all the political fallout an accusation of murder will bring?

 

According to several reviewers the historical facts are accurate. Sano Ichiro is an investigator who suffers from a moral dilemma. He desperately wants to follow Bushido and be a good Samurai, but is driven to uncover and know the truth, which often puts him at odds with the accepted concepts of honour for the current time. A good part of the story is how he reconciles his personal drives within himself in such as way that he feels he is following Bushido by uncovering the truth. He is often tempted to follow the path of least resistance and avoid a great deal of trouble for himself but then finds himself needing to answer just one more question which puts him slap bang in the middle of something he then has to resolve. 

 

On one level the books are not very complex but they are a satisfying read.

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I think I read through book 7 of this series and lost interest for some reason.  I think perhaps it became too much of a love story and not enough of a mystery series.  In any event, the last title I recognize is the 7th one ("Pillow Book") and I no longer have the books in my bookshelf (okay, bookshelves) devoted to my favorite mysteries.  I do remember enjoying them in the beginning, though.  And I loved the glimpse into old Japan.

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I finished book 7 and am now a chapter or two into book 8. All the wives got kidnapped!!! and the shogun's mother!! Very exciting LOL!!

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Ooo now I can't wait until I reach book eight! lol I have just finished the first book and have started the second and I am one the edge of my seat. Some part of me knows he makes it out alive and ok(otherwise there wouldn't be more books after this one :P) but I still get so caught up in the story :)!

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