Black Lotus (Sano Ichiro Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – 31 May 2002
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"Well-developed characters, absorbing plot, and rich detail should win the author a place on mystery bestseller lists."--"Publishers Weekly (starred review)" "Like the big sprawling novels of James Clavell, the Sano Ichiro mysteries are full of captivating detail, with lively characters and solid stories."--"Booklist" "Laura Joh Rowland's richly detailed books about a 17th-century Japanese samurai-warrior-turned-detective are...packed with plot narrative."--"Chicago Tribune"
The sixth thrilling mystery set in feudal Japan featuring Sano Ichiro, samurai detective. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
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Historical novels re-create worlds that are long gone, not too different from the way that fantasy novels create new worlds. I cannot judge how accurate Rowland's portrayal of Shogun-era Japan is, but the world that I have come to know from her books is fascinating, and fully internally consistent.
The characters share some of our values, but also represent a different world view. It is not an easy path to tread for an author, and she does it successfully.
Even her minor characters are three dimensional and developed.
The writing is excellent, the descriptions are vivid, and the plot moves along briskly. The mystery / thriller aspect is reminiscent of Jonathan Kellerman, and is as consistent as he is, book to book.
What is detection? Well, I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. The Ichiros aren't.
So why have I slogged through a series in a genre I care little about. Because the novels' background, the Tokugawa period, is woven enticingly into every scene in the books. Laura Joh Rowland has taken a period and presented it in fascinating detail. At least one other reviewer has asserted that the author's historical facts are inaccurate, but, if so, I don't care. She lays out a culture and milieu that is consistent, pervasive, and convincing. I even have to admit that our two dectectors can be forgiven some of their ineptitude because of social and cultural constraints that don't resonate with this modern American.
I often hurry past the background of a novel to chase the protagonist(s) through the plot. In the case of the Sano Ichiro novels, I find myself hurrying past the principle characters to wallow in the background.
So, all in all, I find this series compelling, but tedious in the central mystery. And I blushingly admit that I am looking forward to the next read.
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