Set in the luscious finery of the samurai court of medieval Japan, this installment in the bestselling series by Laura Joh Rowland, is filled with shocking surprises and suspense as readers are once again allowed access into the world of Sano Ichiro.
In September of 1693, the Black Lotus Temple, spiritual center for hundreds of Buddhist nuns, monks, priests, and orphans, is burned to the ground leaving three dead and one orphan running for cover. Veteran samurai-detective Sano Ichiro, the Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations and People, is called on to investigate the incident. He quickly discovers that despite appearances, the victims did not die in the fire: they were brutally murdered before the fire even began.
With a triple homicide on his hands, Sano's search for a killer leads him to Haru, the orphan girl found at the scene of the crime. But Sano's wife Reiko, investigating the case against Sano's wishes, is convinced of Haru's innocence. Reiko's investigation leads her behind the walls of the Black Lotus Temple. It is within these walls that she discovers a sect involved in extortion, prostitution, and hedonistic rituals. Could one of the sect's members be the killer? Will Reiko risk her marriage to Sano in order to prove Haru's innocence?
The complexities of Buddhist temple society challenge detective Sano Ichiro and his wife and helpmate, Reiko, in the latest installment in Rowland's (The Samurai's Wife) outstanding series set in Shogun-era Japan. In this round Sano has to look into a case of murder and arson in the Black Lotus temple, the home of a mysterious sect and its charismatic leader. Suspicion has fallen on a teenage girl, but while Sano and Reiko find it difficult to penetrate the cult's respectable front, Sano sees nothing untoward in the sect, and he distrusts the 15-year-old's account of the tragedy. Reiko, however, sees a frightened and battered victim, and is willing to disobey and publicly contradict Sano in order to prove the girl's innocence and bring the sect's abuses to light. As Sano and Reiko take different paths in investigating the crime, their intractable passion for the truth threatens the fabric of their marriage. Indeed, the sect seems to inspire intense partisanship everywhere: it has generated much ill will among relatives of its members as well as the townsfolk, yet it has managed to garner the support of some of the highest officials of the Shogun's court. The question of religious cults and the abuse of their influence gives this story contemporary resonance. Well-developed characters, a complex, absorbing plot and rich historical detail should help win the author, the daughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, many new readers as well as a place on mystery bestseller lists. An attractive Japanese-print dust jacket is a plus.