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Penguin, 2005
Trade paperback format ($13.00)
ISBN: 0-14-303532-0

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

This is the third book in a series of historical mysteries, set in eleventh-century Japan, featuring Sugawara Akitada, a nobleman and minor government official. The action in this book takes place before the other two books in the series, so beginning with this book and reading out of order is not a problem.

The author is developing an interesting series by combining political intrigue, adventure, and sleuthing with a compelling story.

As a young junior clerk in the Ministry of Justice, Sugawara Akitada is assigned to track down the thieves who have been stealing tax shipments from the remote province of Kazusa. He has his suspicions but it is no easy task as murder and mischief interfere with his investigations. The author quickly brings the reader into the story and into ancient Japan. The story is fast-paced and intriguing.

If you like historical mysteries, or things Japanese, or a combination of both, this series is worth giving a read. From a writing point of view, I think readers who enjoyed the early books in Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro series will find Parker's series a refreshing and interesting take on the genre. Sujata Massey fan's may also be attracted to this series, because of the Japanese lore that the author brings to the story.

Other titles in this series include: RASHOMON GATE and THE HELL SCREEN.

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