The Way of the Traitor (Sano Ichiro Series #3)

The Way of the Traitor (Sano Ichiro Series #3)

by Laura Joh Rowland

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061010903
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/04/2001
Series: Sano Ichiro Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 519,052
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Laura Joh Rowland is the daughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants. She grew up in Michigan and was educated at the University of Michigan, where she graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology and a Masters in Public Health. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, Marty, and their three cats. She is the author of Shinju, Bundori, The Way of the Traitor, The Concubine's Tattoo, The Samurai's Wife, and Black Lotus, all of which feature the samurai detective Sano Ichiro.

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Chapter One

Through the desolate streets of nighttime Edo marched Sano Ichiro, the shogun's sosakan-sama — Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People. A storm had cleared the Nihonbashi merchant district of pedestrians. Rain pelted tile roofs, streamed from eaves and balconies, dripped off the brim of Sano's wicker hat, and drenched his cloak and trousers. The moist air saturated his lungs with the odors of wet earth and wood. Beside him walked his chief retainer, Hirata, and behind them ten other samurai detectives from the elite corps Sano led. Their sandaled feet splashed along the narrow, muddy road. Spurning shelter and comfort for the sake of their mission, they forged ahead through the downpour.

“This is the place,” Sano said, halting outside a mansion surrounded by a high stone wall. Black mourning drapery hung over the gate; lanterns inside sent a shimmering glow up into the rainy night. Under the balcony of a shop across the street, Sano and his men gathered to review their strategy for the climax of a long investigation.

Since early spring, a rash of bizarre crimes had plagued Edo. Thieves had been stealing corpses from the homes of the deceased and the sites of accidents, or intercepting coffins on the way to funerals. Ignoring class distinctions, they'd seized dead peasants, merchants, and samurai — nine in all. In addition, eight religious pilgrims had been murdered on highways outside town,with abandoned baggage and fresh blood found at the death scenes, but the victims gone. None of the corpses had been recovered. The crimes had terrified travelers and deprived families of the right to honor theirdead with proper funerary rituals.

Sano, ordered by the shogun to capture the body thieves, had placed agents around town. Disguised as itinerant peddlers, they'd loitered in teahouses, entertainment districts, gambling dens, and other places frequented by the criminal element. This morning an agent had over-heard a servant boast that the thieves had paid him to help steal the body of his dead master, during the funeral vigil tonight. The agent had followed the servant to the home of a rich oil merchant and reported the location to Sano.

“If the thieves come, we follow them,” Sano remindedHirata and his men now. “We have to catch their leader and find out what happens to the corpses.”

The detectives surrounded the merchant's house, while Sano and Hirata hid in a recessed doorway across an alley from the back gate. They waited for a miserable, wet hour, breathing the weather's humid warmth. Still the streets remained silent and deserted. Sano's urgency grew.

The son of a ronin, he'd once earned his living as an instructor in his father's martial arts academy and by tutoring young boys, studying history in his spare time. Family connections had secured him a position as a senior police commander. He'd solved a murder case, saved the shogun's life, and been promoted a year and a half ago to the exalted position of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi's sosakan-sama. By capturing the Bundori Killer, who had terrorized Edo with a series of grisly murders, he'd won the shogun's greater favor. Since then, he'd solved many other cases, seen his income and personal staff grow, and achieved a satisfying sense of professional accomplishment. His socially and financially advantageous marriage to Reiko, daughter of the rich, powerful Magistrate Ueda, would take place in the autumn. Yet a dark cloud shadowed Sano's existence.

He'd grown increasingly disillusioned with the bakufu, a corrupt, oppressive dictatorship. Under its orders, Sano had to spy on citizens who'd criticized government policy or otherwise offended the Tokugawa. Distorted andembellished, his findings were used to discredit honest men, who were then exiled or demoted. And the shogun was no better than the regime he commanded. Tokugawa Tsunayoshi indulged a weakness for religion, the arts, and young boys, while neglecting affairs of state. He also sent Sano on fruitless searches for ghosts, magic potions, and buried treasure. Yet Sano had no choice but to pursue such immoral or ridiculous activities. The shogun commanded his complete loyalty, and his future. And his personal life offered no consolation.

While time and self-discipline had exorcised the worst of his heartbreak over losing Aoi, the woman he loved, he couldn't relinquish her memory. He'd delayed his marriage for more than a year, but not just because it would finalize their separation. He didn't want to become close to anyone again, to risk the pain of hurting — or losing — someone else who mattered to him. Hence, he rejoiced at every assignment that was worthy of his effort and allowed him to postpone the wedding yet again, and to maintain his emotional isolation.

Now Sano raised his head, straining to hear. “Listen!” he said to Hirata.

From up the alley came the sound of brisk footsteps splashing through puddles.

“A palanquin,” Hirata said as the sedan chair, carried by four hooded and cloaked bearers, emerged from the dripping darkness. The bearers laid down their burden at the merchant's gate. They were all samurai, with swords at their waists. The gate opened, and two of the men hurried inside. Soon they reappeared, stowed a long bundle in the palanquin, lifted the sedan chair, and trotted away.

Imitating a dog's bark, Sano signaled his men. He and Hirata followed the palanquin, darting in and out of alleys and doorways, through the rain'srelentless clamor. Shadows moved through the night as the detective corps joined the pursuit. The palanquin led them deeper into Nihonbashi's twisting maze of streets, past closed shops and over canals. Finally it stopped outside one of a row of thatched buildings on the edge of the swordmakers' district. A sign over the door bore a circular crest and the name MIOCHIN. And Sano guessed the fate of the stolen corpses.

The bearers vanished inside the building with...

The Way of the Traitor. Copyright © by Laura Joh Rowland. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Way of the Traitor 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The setting and action are fun. The portrayal of Japanese culture and history are compelling. The plot is satisfactory. What prevents this from being a first-rate piece of escapist fiction is the incessant self-doubt and self-depreciation of the supposed hero. It is not only outside of the agreed-upon-suspension of believability but it detracts from the plot to have the shogun's emmissary threatened by every minor official he encounters. It wouldn't be offensive to have him thwarted occasionally by circumstance or high court macinations, but please, let's not have him falsely accused by every character he meets, in a barely-won death battle against every swordsman he fights (he was an instructor -- can't he soundly beat anyone?), and put on trial for obviously stupid reasons. The most frustrating thing about this book is how close it comes to being great without even beinggood.
stampin_joy More than 1 year ago
This book is the third in the series that features Sano Ichiro, the great detective of post-feudal Japan. Sano works under the Emperor in Edo, solving crimes of the state, espionage and murder. In this book, Sano is sent to Nagaski by his wicked rival in the emperor's court. Of course, when he gets to the city, a most terrible murder has taken place. Unfortunately, for the Japanese in Nagasaki, it is the death of a Dutch trader. Sano must solve the case before war breaks out between the two countries. This book is a great read for the mystery, plot twists and always for the surprise "who done it" ending. Also Sano must try to get back into the favor of the Emperor and beat his rival and spies who are out to smear his good name.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to say, this was not her best book, but, being a fan, I read it and loved it anyways. It has a wonderful plot and shows a side of Japan that you may not have known of.
Lman on LibraryThing 29 days ago
More than a year has passed since the last book in the Sano Ichir¿ series and Sano is now head of an elite force of Samurai detectives. Despite finding success in his new position which brings an impending marriage, great gain to his financial and personal state and the deep loyalty of Hirata, his chief retainer, Sano is nevertheless not happy. Still heartbroken over losing Aoi and disillusioned with the shogun¿s regime, Sano is bundled unceremoniously off by Chamberlain Yanagisawa on an inspection tour of Nagasaki, in the hope of removing him from favour and discrediting his position permanently. Nagasaki is the only city in 17th century Japan where foreign contact is allowed through trade and hence the most innocent behaviour is often wrongly interpreted as treason and condemns a man to death. Sano, on his arrival, with his natural curiosity, open nature, enquiring mind and sense of duty immediately undertakes the search for a missing Dutch trader, which becomes a murder investigation once the body is found washed up on the shore.The Way of the Traitor allows the reader a glimpse into what life was like for the Japanese when interacting with other nations and customs, and emphasises the strictures placed on the society in an attempt to keep the ruling power intact and outside influences to a minimum. Sano is at a disadvantage in his investigations, being unable to communicate directly with many of the suspects and, with his differing attitude, coping with a xenophobic society and a welter of bureaucracy. Again Rowland immerses us in the bleak corruption of the era and the fanatical devotion to the tradition of hierarchy and duty, which Sano himself is attempting to follow and fight simultaneously, often to the detriment of his task and his life.While I readily became immersed in this story, as in the previous books, I found Sano¿s abilities to repeatedly escape serious consequences a little difficult to reconcile. However the ending of this book, I felt, actually addresses this situation and thus satisfies any niggling doubts which may have lingered in my mind over this issue. I see Sano fast becoming a flourishing medieval samurai detective, a force to be reckoned with; and I look forward to his next case.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss ur hand three times repost this at 3 differnt books then look under ur pillo
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A dead body washes up on the shore of Nagasaki Japan. It is Dutch Trade Director Jan Spaen. Sano Ichiro was only supposed to inspect Nagasaki, but he somehow manages to get caught up in this murder mystery. And what starts as a murder investigation, turns into a fight for Sano¿s life. I liked this book because its ¿level of suspense¿ was usually quite high. However, there were parts of the book that were somewhat dull. The book kicks off on the right foot with an execution in the prologue. Then it continues to appall me with a sword duel in the first chapters. Unfortunately the book couldn¿t keep the pace it started and my interest was soon lost. Then my interest returned for an exciting part, but soon dissipated as the dullness returned. It was like this the entire time. And, the book went into way too much detail of the people¿s sexual practices. I don¿t want to know that kind of stuff yet, or ever. The book was very long and drawn out, and it should have been shortened. A plus was the occasional use of Japanese words and phrases such as gomen nasai, sumimasen, and bakarashii (meaning I¿m sorry, excuse me, and ridiculous respectively). Another plus was the advanced English vocabulary. This book is for audiences mature enough for the intense death scenes and sexual content. If you have a weak stomach, don¿t read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book gave a good mystery and good action.If you are a fan of samurai or just like mystery GET THIS BOOK.