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Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland
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Shinju (original 1994; edition 1996)

by Laura Joh Rowland

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6201015,695 (3.76)17
Member:lovejoy_rat
Title:Shinju
Authors:Laura Joh Rowland
Info:HarperTorch (1996), Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Mystery, Japan, police procedural

Work details

Shinjū by Laura Joh Rowland (1994)

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» See also 17 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Worth reading for the peek into the culture and daily life of 17th century Japan, though the mystery plot is not very compelling (it's pretty obvious who the culprit is from early on). Rowland's samurai detective spends quite a bit of this book agonizing over the conflict between his desire to solve the crime and his desire to bring honor to his family by being obedient to his superiors (who have ordered him to stop pestering the elite members of society with his questions). That's an interesting dilemma for a detective to have but does make things drag from time to time...I am curious to see how the character develops, though, and will certainly pick up the next in the series fairly soon! ( )
  mrlzbth | Feb 6, 2014 |
1st read this as a library edition, never bought it. I have read almost the entire series, Adding this to my collection of ones I do already have is just great. If Japanese history/drama/detective genre interests you at all, and/or you have never read any of this series. I Highly recommend this one. it is the first one of the series and sets up the characters for all the others, a good primer. A great book and for me, addicting enough to follow the series all these years. Laura Joh Rowland is a great writer and love everything she's written. ( )
  shieldwolf | Sep 9, 2013 |
For some reason I had trouble getting into the story and caring one way or another about the murder victims or the characters in the story. I am a fan of I. J. Parkers series set in ancient Japan so I was predisposed to like this. Maybe the next in the series will be more engaging. ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
What makes this novel worth reading sure isn't style or plot but the cultural and historical picture of Japan under the Shogunate. While it dips at times through others' points of view, this tale is mostly seen through the eyes of Sano Ichiru, a samurai currently employed as a Yoriki, supervising policemen in the city of Edo. When he's asked to look into a seeming joint suicide, a shinju, his position, his honor, and his very life is put into danger when he defies orders and digs further into what he believes is murder. In the midst of his investigation he moves through every segment of society--from nuns and prostitutes to sumo wrestlers and Kabuki actors to the highest reaches of his society. I liked the young Sano, who wrestles with the conflicting forces of duty and conformity against the desire to find truth and see justice done. But what really made this book for me was the way Rowland transported me into another time and place, and I'll definitely look up more of the series in the future. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Dec 17, 2010 |
Shinju is a novel that introduces its reader to Sano Ichiro, a member of the shogun class who serves as a yoriki, investigating crimes in seventeenth-century Edo (Tokyo). It’s a position he’d rather not be in, since he gained his position through connections; and many of his contemporaries resent him for it. When the daughter of one of the most preeminent families in Edo turns up dead in the company of a lowly artist, everyone assumes that they were a double love-suicide, or Shinju. But Sano Ichiro suspects otherwise, and his search for a murderer leads him into dangerous territory—especially since the family of the dead girl would rather keep the matter closed.

This is a very strong start to what seems like an interesting series. Sano Ichiro is an unusual investigator—anyone else in his position would simply commit seppuku rather than live with the shame of what he’s done; but Ichiro persists in his investigation, driven by his sense of honor. His unconventional behavior makes him an intriguing character, one I want to read more about in future books. Rowland’s description of her characters’ emotions is a bit simplistic, and our hero is both astute and dense at the same time (how did he figure out the identity of the “watcher” who follows him along the Tokkaido so quickly?); but I was able to overlook these things because I enjoyed much of the rest of the book.

I loved the setting of the book, too; Rowland describes everything about late-17th century Japan in deep detail. I love historically detailed novels, and people who look for that kind of thing will enjoy this book. Not knowing much about the history of Japan, I can’t say if this is historically accurate, but everything Rowland writes about hangs together well. From sumo matches to 17th century crime and punishment (brutal at the very least), the author gives her reader an intimate view of Edo. ( )
  Kasthu | Aug 21, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rowland, Laura Johprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061009504, Mass Market Paperback)

When beautiful, wealthy Yukiko and low-born artist Noriyoshi are found drowned together in a shinju, or ritual double suicide, everyone believes the culprit was forbidden love. Everyone but newly appointed yoriki Sano Ichiro.

Despite the official verdict and warnings from his superiors, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People suspects the deaths weren't just a tragedy -- they were murder. Risking his family's good name and his own life, Sano will search for a killer across every level of society -- determined to find answers to a mystery no one wants solved. No one but Sano...

As subtle and beautiful as the culture it evokes, Shinju vividly re-creates a world of ornate tearooms and guady pleasure-palaces, cloistered mountaintop convents and dealthy prisons.

Part love story, part myster, Shinju is a tour that will dazzle and entertain all who enter its world.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In seventeenth-century Japan, Sano, a teacher and detective, investigates the ritual "suicide" drownings of a peasant and a noblewoman, supposed star-crossed lovers, and uncovers an intricate plot of political intrigue and murder.

(summary from another edition)

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