The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria), Sano Ichiro, the shogun's Most Honorable"/>

THE DRAGON KING'S PALACE

Laura Joh Rowland, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-28266-0

In Rowland's eighth engrossing 17th-century Japanese mystery (after 2002's The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria), Sano Ichiro, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations and People, is roused in the middle of the night when the shogun's mother and Sano's wife, Reiko, are kidnapped en route to Mount Fuji and their escort slaughtered. The crisis is exacerbated by the identities of the two other abductees: the wife of Sano's primary rival, the chamberlain Yanagisawa, the real power behind the shogun; and the pregnant wife of Sano's chief assistant. Sano's considerable deductive, strategic and diplomatic skills are repeatedly tested as he juggles the caprices of his ruler, who struggles with his figurehead status, Yanagisawa's ambitions for succession and the interests of the court's other power players. The organizer of the crimes, who calls himself the Dragon King after a traditional folk tale, makes an unusual ransom demand that only adds to the mystery of his identity and motivation. While her husband races to put the pieces of the puzzle together before the shogun's recklessness imperils the hostages, Reiko, bright and self-reliant, schemes to free herself and her companions. Rowland's masterful evocation of the period enables the reader to identify with the universal human emotions and drives that propel her characters while absorbing numerous telling details of a different culture and era. Regional author tour. (Apr. 21)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
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