In I.J. Parker's newest mystery set in eleventh-century Japan, Akitada disguises himself as a prisoner to solve the, murder of a prince
As her audience grows with each evocative historical thriller featuring Sugawara Akitada, I. J. Parker returns with a gripping tale of political intrigue and cold-blooded murder in ancient Japan. When the exiled Prince Okisada, the most illustrious prisoner of the penal colony on Sado Island, is poisoned, Akitada is called upon by the emperor's envoys to investigate incognito. Posing as a prisoner, he discovers a deadly conspiracy, only to fall into the hands of brutal guards and disappear. It falls to Tora, Akitada's devoted assistant, to begin his own dangerous search of the island for his lost friend and the truth.
Parker's fourth Sugawara Akitada mystery (after 2006's Black Arrow), set in 11th-century Japan, manages to outplot its superb predecessors. When exiled and disgraced Prince Okisada is poisoned on Sado Island, a penal colony, Akitada is recruited by a shadowy pair of high-ranking government officials who devise a risky plan to find the killer. While the local governor's son has been arrested for the murder, suspicions linger that he was framed by high constable Kumo Sanetomo as part of a plot against the emperor. Akitada, disguised as a convict, infiltrates Sado Island and suffers physical abuse from corrupt guards and police as he uncovers indications that the prince may have ingested the fatal blowfish toxin by accident. The fast-moving, surprising plot and colorful writing will enthrall even those unfamiliar with the exotic setting. The Shamus Award Parker won with her first Akitada short story may soon have company.