I'm not usually a fan of mystery novels, but I do make an exception for I J Parker's Akitada series. Partly it's the setting - 11th century Japan's not so common in the world of literature - and partly it's just that they're so enjoyable. The characters are well-rounded, with flaws (sometimes significant ones) and that really comes to the fore in The Masuda Affair. Several times I worried about the relationships in the book unsure whether or not they would be resolved. It's rare for a book to pull me in this way, but this one managed it. Desipte the overall depressing nature of the book, there are some comic moments that had me chuckling, which I would love to share but won't for fear it'l spoil your enjoyment. The Masuda Affair is a highly-recommended mystery novel set in an unusual and interesting period, with a likeable and intriguing cast. Buy it!