The Snow Empress

Laura Joh Rowland, Author . St. Martin’s Minotaur $24.95 (293p) ISBN 978-0-312-36542-4

Demonstrating an impressive level of sustained excellence, Rowland’s mysteries set in 17th-century Japan form one of the best recent series in the genre. The 12th episode (after 2006’s Red Chrysanthemum ) delves deeper into the politics of an empire ruled by a figurehead as the background for a compelling and thrilling whodunit. Rowland continues to conjure up new hurdles for her sleuth, Sano Ichiro, recently elevated to the position of chamberlain. His power and integrity inevitably offend more venal politicians, one of whom arranges the abduction of Sano’s young son, Masahiro. Sano’s quest for the kidnappers coincides with a mission to the remote northern city of Ezogashima, where an insane local ruler is holding the entire community hostage as he searches for the murderer of his mistress, an exotic foreigner known as the Snow Empress. Compelling pacing and well-rounded characters enhance the intriguing plot and will draw in new readers as well as longtime fans. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/10/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
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