cover image Black Arrow

Black Arrow

Ingrid J. Parker, . . Penguin, $13 (356pp) ISBN 978-0-14-303561-9

Shamus-winner Parker's fourth historical Sugawara Akitada novel (after 2006's Rashomon Gate ) deftly combines an action-packed plot with convincing period detail to bring 11th-century Japan to life. When Akitada is dispatched to a remote northern province to serve as its provisional governor, he encounters fierce opposition from the local authorities, who have driven off previous emissaries from the capital in an effort to preserve their corrupt self-governance. The murder of a local innkeeper and the apparent effort to frame three travelers for the crime give Akitada an opening to exert some power by beginning his own independent investigation. Fans of quality traditional mysteries, as well as those with a special interest in Japan, will savor this outing and look forward to the next entry in the series. (Dec.)