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The Fire Kimono (Sano Ichiro Series #13)

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Overview

"Japan, March 1700. Near a Shinto shrine in the hills, a windstorm knocks down a tree to uncover a human skeleton, long buried and forgotten. Meanwhile, in the nearby city of Edo, troops ambush and attack Lady Reiko, the wife of Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective who has risen to power and influence in the shogun's court. The troops who attacked Reiko appear to belong to Sano's fiercest enemy, Lord Matsudaira, who denies all responsibility. But if the rivals are not to blame for each other's misfortune, who is?" "Just as Sano's strife with
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The Fire Kimono (Sano Ichiro Series #13)

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Overview

"Japan, March 1700. Near a Shinto shrine in the hills, a windstorm knocks down a tree to uncover a human skeleton, long buried and forgotten. Meanwhile, in the nearby city of Edo, troops ambush and attack Lady Reiko, the wife of Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective who has risen to power and influence in the shogun's court. The troops who attacked Reiko appear to belong to Sano's fiercest enemy, Lord Matsudaira, who denies all responsibility. But if the rivals are not to blame for each other's misfortune, who is?" "Just as Sano's strife with Matsudaira begins to escalate to the brink of war, the shogun orders Sano to investigate the origins of the mysterious skeleton, buried with swords that identify it as belonging to the shogun's cousin, who disappeared forty years earlier on the night that a cursed kimono touched off a fire that nearly destroyed the city." Suddenly Sano and Reiko are forced to confront dangerous, long-buried secrets that expose Sano's own mother as the possible culprit. The shogun gives Sano and Reiko just three days to clear her name - or risk losing not only their position at court but their families' lives.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Set in 1700, Rowland's outstanding 13th Sano Ichiro mystery (after 2007's The Snow Empress) finds Sano, whom the shogun raised to the rank of chamberlain several books back, waging a fierce struggle with his chief rival, Lord Matsudaira. The stakes are raised at the outset when Matsudaira's forces almost succeed in killing Sano's wife and occasional sleuthing partner, Reiko. The chamberlain soon suspects that someone else may have been behind the attack, but soon he faces a more daunting task-proving his mother innocent of the murder of one of the shogun's cousins, who vanished during the great fire that destroyed much of Edo and whose skeletal remains were just uncovered by chance. Sano must now question everything he thought he knew about his mother, with his own family facing execution should she be found guilty. Rowland has given her hero his greatest challenge yet in this suspenseful look at feudal Japan. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Adult/High School

Sano Ichiro, second in command to the shogun, is preparing for war against his enemy, Lord Matsudaira. The shogun is weak and unable to rule effectively and the two wage battle behind his back, each wanting to stop the other from gaining more power. In the thick of this enmity, a skeleton is unearthed and discovered to be the body of the shogun's cousin, murdered 40 years earlier. Sano is sent to investigate, only to find that his own mother is implicated. He must not only save her from execution, but also come to terms with the secrets she's held all his life. This turn of events provides Lord Matsudaira with the fodder he needs to try to oust Sano. The story threads are neatly tied up to create a satisfactory ending that leaves readers wanting more about these all-too-human characters. This series stars Sano and his wife, Reiko, who solve mysteries. The book can be read on its own, but it would be a richer experience for teens familiar with the preceding titles. The plot is complicated, with many auxiliary stories taking place alongside the thread of the mystery. Rowland brings Sano, his wife, a cast of supporting characters, and 18th-century Japan to life with a sweet, simple writing style.-Connie Williams, Kenilworth Jr. High, Petaluma, CA

Kirkus Reviews

A toppled tree exposes the bones of a boy murdered 43 years earlier in the heat of the great 17th-century fire that leveled Edo, the huge predecessor to Tokyo.

Returning to the familiar Japan of her long-running samurai saga after a side trip to 19th-century England, Rowland (The Snow Empress, 2007, etc.) drops her readers in the midst of red-hot court intrigue. Beautiful, clever, part-time detective Reiko's palanquin is attacked in the streets by men wearing the badge of her husband Sano Ichiro's arch rival Lord Matsudaira. Within a short time Matsudaira's household is bombed by men seemingly in the employ of Sano, the brilliant former policeman who has worked his way to the right hand of the Shogun. Sano and Matsudaira are indeed at each others' throats, but privately, out of sight of the boss and his boyfriend. The attacks have been masterminded by someone outside the Shogun's household. Before things are sorted out, the rivals are summoned to court where the Shogun announces the discovery of the bones of his long dead young kinsman Tokugawa Tadadoshi, and he orders Sano to get to the bottom of the murder. Sano's investigation is hampered from the beginning by the deadly competition with Matsudaira. It then becomes a catastrophe when evidence points to Sano's mother Etsuko as the prime suspect. Sano and Reiko work separately to reveal the aristocratic and very romantic past at the heart of a love triangle that Etsuko has kept hidden from her son, as well as her involvement in the household of the murdered youth. The secrets, which lie in the chaos of the burning of Edo 43 years earlier, must come out if Etsuko is to avoid execution, but Sano's frantic sleuthing runs constantlyup against the machinations of an old and exiled enemy.

Far from being distracting, the historic setting is mesmerizing. Great escape fiction.

From the Publisher
“Rowland matches her talent for storytelling with her ability to render convincing historical detail in this long-running but fresh series.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Rowland has a painter’s eye for the minutiae of court life, as well as a politician’s ear for intrigue.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Sano may carry a sword and wear a kimono, but you’ll immediately recognize him as an ancestor of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade.” —The Denver Post

“Blending political intrigue and barbed social commentary, Red Chrysanthemum is a crisply lurid Rashomon mystery.” —Entertainment Weekly

“A careful, beautiful portrayal of a dangerous time in Japanese history . . . a compelling and lively series.” —The Dallas Morning News

“One of the best mysteries of the year.” —Publishers Weekly on The Snow Empress

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312588861
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Series: Sano Ichiro Series , #13
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 680,262
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Joh Rowland, the granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, was educated at the University of Michigan and now lives in New Orleans with her husband. The Fire Kimono is the thirteenth novel in her acclaimed series of thrillers featuring Sano Ichiro.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 10 )
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(8)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Ms. Rowland has another winner

    I am very bias when it comes to the Sano Ichiro series as I have read them all, and liked everyone of them. Eventhough I do not have a favorite, Fire Kimono, is one of my top five stories.<BR/>Now that his old enemy Yanagisawa has returned (the idiot Shogun has forgiven him for everything), and Sano is now sharing the dubious title of Chamberlain with him - the next book by Ms. Rowland should be very interesting. I found that Sano's mother should have a past (doesn't everyone)to be very revealing and appropriate which explains the real reason she did not want to live inside the castle gates with Sano after his marriage. Again, Sano has to save her and his family from a horrible death (doesn't he always) which will become additional story plot as Rowland develops Sano's mother and her lost love.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2012

    Great book which has mystery and Japanese History

    I have been a big fan of the Sano Ichiro series. My only problem is that when I start one of these books, I get nothing else done. I have been to Japan (when I was in the Army)and the places described are historically accurate. I think the author has a wonderful story telling ability. I would recommend that the reader start with the first book (Shinju)to get the basics of the series. I bought the first book for a dollar at the bargain book store, and have bought all the others at B & N.

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Recommended

    I finished this book too soon.... Great Samurai-Fiction book. Sano is my hero, Yanagisawa is the evil one, but I kind of miss him when he is not around. Great book. Can't wait for her next book "The Cloud Pavilion" to be out at the bookstore.

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    super Japanese historical thriller

    In 1700 supporters of Lord Matsudaira almost kill Lady Reiko during an attack on her. Chamberlain Sano Ichiro is outraged on the assault of his beloved wife and vows vengeance against his despicable rival Matsudaira although his adversary denies any involvement.

    However, the samurai has to put aside his growing suspicion that a third party attacked his wife when the Shogun orders Sano to investigate the finding of a body buried near a Shinto shrine. Items uncovered next to the corpse imply the deceased is the Shogun's cousin who vanished without a trace four decades ago during an inferno that devastated much of Edo. As the husband and wife investigative team probe the case in which the shogun concedes reluctantly three days to them, they find evidence that implicates Sano's mother Etsuko with the murder.

    THE FIRE KIMONO is one of the best Ichiro Japanese historical thrillers, which says a lot as this long running saga is known for its consistent excellence. The story line contains two strong twists, but it is the second one that shocks the samurai hero as his belief system is torn asunder with what he learns about his mother. Fans will enjoy this super entry as Sano and Reiko have three days to prove his mom was not the bearer of the deadly FIRE KIMONO who killed the shogun's cousin and destroyed Edo; but every clue seems to lead to the conclusion she is.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    Good Book! Good Series!

    As you see I'm a fan of her books.

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  • Posted January 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful addition to her already fantastic collection of Sano Ichiro series.

    I expected Yanagisawa to return, but you will never expect the rest. This book keeps the pages turning. In a matter of three nights I had it finished. I will be waiting in suspense for number 14 of this series.

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    Posted February 9, 2009

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