In I. J. Parker's latest mystery set in ancient Japan, a cold and hostile land pits Akitada against his deadliest foe yet
I. J. Parker's engrossing historical novels bring eleventh-century Japan to life in all its colorful, treacherous glory. As Black Arrow opens, Sugawara Akitada assumes his new post as provisional governor of Echigo, a frigid province in the far north notorious for its hostility to outsiders. But the snow that threatens to completely isolate the region is the least of his problems-which include a local uprising, a series of brutal murders, and a mystery that's as old as the frozen hills and a lot more dangerous. Superbly written and rich in period detail, Black Arrow is another bravura performance from a master of the historical thriller.
Shamus-winner Parker's fourth historical Sugawara Akitada novel (after 2006's Rashomon Gate) deftly combines an action-packed plot with convincing period detail to bring 11th-century Japan to life. When Akitada is dispatched to a remote northern province to serve as its provisional governor, he encounters fierce opposition from the local authorities, who have driven off previous emissaries from the capital in an effort to preserve their corrupt self-governance. The murder of a local innkeeper and the apparent effort to frame three travelers for the crime give Akitada an opening to exert some power by beginning his own independent investigation. Fans of quality traditional mysteries, as well as those with a special interest in Japan, will savor this outing and look forward to the next entry in the series.