on 31 October 2011
I find Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro series entertaing. There is always a hint of a formula being used; Sano is at odds with his opponent in the Shogun's court, it is dangerous for his family and himself, the odds are against him but good shall always prevail. Oh! And there's always a bit of kinky sex. This may sound a bit too corny but Rowland manages to use this formula in ways that can end up keeping you enthralled, on the edge of your seat (as it were) wondering how the hell it's all going to work out. Rowland writes in a style that moves forward at a steady pace and manages to realistically evoke daily life in Seventeenth Century Japan. "The Fire Kimono" is no exception, in fact I feel it is the best of her books so far. The remains of a body are exposed after a tree falls in a storm. The remains turn out to be that of the Shogun's cousin who went missing during the Great Fire of Edo (itself described quite powerfully). Sano is charged with finding out what happened. Digging up the past never really turns out well but who could have foreseen the mess this accidental turning up of old bones brings about. Sano's own mother is accused of murder amidst a torrid play for power in the court and you know things are going to get quite desperate before it gets better. It's gripping. It's good.