THE PILLOW BOOK OF LADY WISTERIA

Laura Joh Rowland, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-28262-2

Delicate prose and a plot full of the overtones and undercurrents that shade real life push Rowland's latest historical beyond the standard whodunit. In 17th-century Japan, Sano Ichiro—the shogun's "Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People"—has had little time to recover from the disturbing events recounted in Black Lotus (2001) when he's called on to solve a murder of deep political consequence. The shogun's cousin and probable heir has been slain in the bedchamber of Lady Wisteria, a high-priced courtesan, who has gone missing. Every step Sano takes brings the possibility of personal ruin, as the shogun's favor is fickle and Sano has powerful, sly political enemies. Self-doubt and mistrust of others are souvenirs of the insidious black lotus case, which continually plagues Sano and those close to him; he doesn't have all of his emotional strength and his enemies are beginning to act more openly. When the murder case stalls, more subtle mysteries capture the reader's attention. How will Sano regain the upper hand against his enemies, or at least hold his ground? How will he get back in the shogun's good graces when all his suspects are being put to death for other crimes? Will he and his wife regain their trust of each other and themselves? All the animosity and fear in this seamless work is put forth in demure language that perfectly suits the culture Rowland portrays. This character- and atmosphere-driven work is sure to expand Rowland's already large fan base. Regional author tour. (Apr. 15)

Reviewed on: 03/11/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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