Thursday, February 25, 2010

F is for Fire

For my sixth installment of The Alphabet in Historical Fiction which is hosted by the lovely ladies over at Historical Tapestry, I decided to visit an era that I'm extremely fascinated with, Japan in the 1700's. Full of traditions, honor, samurai's and beautiful kimonos. And did I mention it's a mystery...bonus.
Here's the blurb for The Fire Kimono by Laura Joh Rowland:
Japan, March 1700. The strife between Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective who has risen to power in the shogun's court, and his enemies has escalated to the brink of war.
When a long-buried skeleton with mysterious links to the shogun suddenly comes to light, Sano and his wife, Reiko, who defies social conventions by joining in his investigations, must confront dangerous secrets. What was Sano's own mother doing on the night when a burning kimono ignited a blaze that nearly destroyed the city? The shogun gives Sano and Reiko just three days to find out--or risk losing not only their position at court but their families' lives.

I found this book quite by surprise, I was browsing through the aisles of one of my local UBS's, and I saw this beautiful cover. Yes, it was the cover. I had just finished reading The Teahouse Fire and I couldn't resist grabbing it. The bonus like I said earlier is it that it's a mystery. The only problem was its the 13th book of a series. And I usually like reading them in order, but I just had to read it right away.

Once again I was transported into a completely different era full of conflict, wars, the need to maintain the family honor and the mystery of a long ago death. That death somehow has a connection to a Kimono that brought death to various young serving girls. And it's that mystery that the shogun wants Sano, his chamberlain to investigate. But Sano soon discovers that his mother may have had a hand in the murder. His understandable conflict with the need to solve this murder and also protect his mother was very well written. And I found it very emotional in its particular way, considering that they are not shown to be an emotional people per se.
Another thing I found amazing was how violent and brutal the life of a samurai was, of course I knew they were elite soldiers but the ethic and their code of honor was so brutal and surprising.

Overall I thought it was a very good book, but found that it didn't hold my attention and it didn't have the awe that I was expecting. And that being said I will look for the other books in the series, but this time around through the library.

The Fire Kimono by Laura Joh Rowland (4/5) Historical Fiction: Mystery; Published: Minotaur Books (11/08); Series: # 13, Sano Ichiro; New Author; Alphabet Historical Challenge (6); Books 2010 (21);


Rowenna said...

Ok, the book sounds good...but the cover is gorgeous! It would have hooked me, too, don't feel bad for selecting based on that cover!

Marg said...

Approximately 6 years ago, I did a book swap with an American friend. I sent her a few books, and she sent me the first 7 or 8 books in this series. I have never even opened the first book. They sit on my shelf and every now and again I think about actually reading the first book but it hasn't actually happened yet!

The cover for this entry in the series is seriously gorgeous though!