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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.