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By Dale Furutani

HarperCollins, 2000

Reviewed by J. Ashley

This book is the third and final installment of the Matsuyama Kaze trilogy begun in DEATH AT THE CROSSROADS.

Kaze has at last braved entering the city of Edo in search of his Lady's daughter. He finds the new capital in the middle of a building boom; the new shogun has taken up residence and requires the daimyos (lords) to reside in the city with him for half the year. Edo has become the place to be.

As the new shogun inspects work on the walls of his new palace, a musket shot narrowly misses him and kills one of the daimyos walking near him. A guard captain has spotted Kaze in the crowd and recognized him. When he reports this to the shogun, Kaze is accused of being the assassin, and the hunt for him begins.

Kaze, oblivious to both the assassination attempt and the price on his head, scours the city for the little girl. He finds where she is being kept, but must get inside. He meets up with two peasants introduced in JADE PALACE VENDETTA, and uses the theater they've purchased as his base of operations.

Kaze discovers the price on his head and must use his wits to both find the girl and evade capture. In the end, Kaze pieces together the identity of the assassin as well as meets up with an old adversary to settle a score.

This book brings the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. Unlike the first two books, this story contains less introspection and more action/adventure--the author includes fewer vignettes regarding Japanese history and mythology in favor of more sword fights. Kaze's powers sometimes become almost unbelievable, and in one scene, he even "invents" kabuki theatre as it is known today!

That said, Kaze is one of the finest characters in the mystery genre. He fights only when necessary, and uses his wits, knowledge, and experience to survive. He shows compassion and humor as well as intelligence, and searches for personal peace rather than power.

I will be sorry if this is the last we see of Kaze. I will not give away the trilogy's ending, but it does leave us with tantalizing possibilities for further stories.

This is one of my favorite mystery series. My husband tells me the books are very like Akira Kurosawa films, so Kurosawa fans may enjoy them.

Other titles by this author which have been reviewed include: DEATH AT THE CROSSROADS: A Samurai Mystery, JADE PALACE VENDETTA, and DEATH IN LITTLE TOKYO.

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