The Convict's Sword

The Convict's Sword

3.6 5
by I. J. Parker
     
 

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The latest in the "terrifically imaginative" (The Wall Street Journal) Akitada mystery series brings eleventh-century Japan to life

I. J. Parker's phenomenal Akitada mystery series has been gaining fans with each new novel. The latest, The Convict's Sword, is the most fully realized installment to date, weaving history, drama, mystery,

Overview

The latest in the "terrifically imaginative" (The Wall Street Journal) Akitada mystery series brings eleventh-century Japan to life

I. J. Parker's phenomenal Akitada mystery series has been gaining fans with each new novel. The latest, The Convict's Sword, is the most fully realized installment to date, weaving history, drama, mystery, romance, and adventure into a story of passion and redemption. Lord Sugawara Akitada, the senior secretary in the Ministry of Justice, must find the mysterious killer of a man condemned to live in exile for a crime he did not commit. Meanwhile, Akitada's retainer, Tora, investigates the sudden death of a blind street singer, whose past life is a bigger mystery than anyone thought. Told in Parker's clever, vivid prose, The Convict's Sword is a must-read for those who love well-written mysteries in an exotic setting.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Parker's compelling fifth mystery set in feudal Japan (after 2007's Island of Exiles), Sugawara Akitada, now a senior secretary in the ministry of justice, suffers guilt over his failure to fulfill his promise to Haseo, a recently deceased convict who saved his life in an earlier book, to exonerate him. As Akitada makes some small progress toward finding the truth about the five-year-old murders Haseo was blamed for, he must also clear his own retainer, Tora, of the murder of a blind street singer. His inquiries on both fronts come at a time of increasing tension with his wife, Tamako, and as an outbreak of smallpox disrupts the capital city, Heian-Kyo. A capricious and unreliable boss, Soga, adds to his woes. Besides smoothly mixing action and deduction, Parker gives her protagonist an emotional depth that raises her to the front rank of contemporary historical writers, including Laura Joh Rowland, the author of a similar series set in 17th-century Japan (The Fire Kimono, etc.). (Aug.)

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Kirkus Reviews
An 11th-century Japanese sleuth solves two killings that strike uncomfortably close to home. The brutal murder of Tomoe, a blind street singer, offers a stark contrast to the beautiful morning that greets Lord Sugawara Akitada and his beloved wife Tamako. Akitada, who serves as Senior Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, has recently been testy and restless at work. The solution, he realizes, is to fulfill a past promise to ferret out the killer of his friend Haseo, even though this could imperil his position in the royal court. The only clue in the murder of Haseo, a former convict unjustly condemned, is the weapon: a sword. Tomoe's killing presents a more pressing mystery. The prime suspect is Tora, one of Akitada's three lieutenants, reportedly apprehended near the body with knife in hand. Amazingly, Tora's elder cohort Seimei theorizes that the hotheaded young man might indeed be guilty. Akitada uneasily presses for Tora's release so that he can help find the killer. The case only grows more complex when it's discovered that Tomoe may have been a prostitute. A rift in Akitada's marriage and a health scare for Seimei provide further complications. At length, despite a scarcity of clues, the investigation comes full circle, leading to the solution of Haseo's murder as well. The elegance and deliberate pace of Akitada's sixth case (Island of Exiles, 2007, etc.) are appropriate to the hero's character and satisfying on their own. Abundant historical detail adds interest to the pro forma mystery.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101050941
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/28/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
285,447
File size:
669 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

I. J. Parker, winner of the Shamus Award for "Akitada’s First Case," a short story published in 1999, lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She writes regularly for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

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Convict's Sword (Sugawara Akitada Series #6) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Start at the beginning with this series. Very well done, I say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shayheyred More than 1 year ago
This sixth book about Justice Ministry drone and investigator Sugawara Akitada finds him as self-doubting as ever, even as he investigates the murder of a "nobody" with a surprising past. Some of Akitada's thoughts and actions regarding woman -- particularly wives -- are hard to for a 21st-century person to accept, but his decency and tenacity when searching for truth shine through as always. He's complex, which makes him fascinating, as is his wife Tamako and the other characters that surround him in Heian-era Japan, particularly his servant, the irreverent Tora. What's so fascinating about I. J. Parker's books is the attention to detail that nevertheless doesn't weigh down the story. And her prose is better than ever.
litgal More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all of the Akitada novels to date, but this one truly disappoints. Parker has taken Akitada in a wholly unexpected, and unwelcome, direction. In this novel, a well-meaning underdog becomes a selfish and unrecognizable dolt--ineffectual in all his dealings. He does solve the crime in the end, but in this book crime takes a backseat to the protagonist's--suddenly miserable--personal life. I hope the author can pull it together in the future, but I'm not sure I've retained enough interest to find out.