The Ronin’s Mistress
Laura Joh Rowland
Minotaur, Sep 13 2011, $24.99
In 1703 Edo, forty-seven ronin samurai arrive at the estate of the Shogun Tsunayoshi’s master of ceremonies Kira Yoshinaka. Though the shogun had declared no vendetta, in an act of revenge for turning them into masterless ronin twenty-two months ago; the band’s leader Oishi Kuranosuke beheads Yoshinaka for his evil involvement in the death of their master Lord Asano during a feud; others at the estate were also killed.
Having been demoted from Chamberlain back to his previous job as the Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, Sano Ichiro leads the investigation though he seethes that manipulative, corrupt, ambitious and lethal Yanagisawa was back in power as the Chamberlain. At the same time, Kuranosuke’s mistress Okaru informs Ichiro’s wife Reiko, that the feud is not what is publically believed. Ichiro looks into the strange case of the forty-seven who completed a cleansing ritual and wait further “orders”, but came quietly with him and his detectives. Now he needs to recommend whether the forty-seven commit ritual suicide as the honorable end to the dispute.
This is a great entry in the Feudal Japan saga (see The Fire Kimono and The Cloud Pavilion) based on the legend of the 47 Ronin. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Kuranosuke severs the head of Yoshinaka and never slows down as dedicated Ichiro and his wife uncover anomalies in what looks like a shut and closed case.