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The Concubine's Tattoo by Laura Joh…
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The Concubine's Tattoo (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Laura Joh Rowland

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475921,755 (3.62)12
Member:eenerd
Title:The Concubine's Tattoo
Authors:Laura Joh Rowland
Info:St. Martin's Press (1998), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, mystery, crime, Japan, shogun, lovers, intrigue, court politics

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The Concubine's Tattoo by Laura Joh Rowland (1998)

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English (8)  Spanish (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The Concubine’s Tattoo by Laura Joh Rowland is the fourth book in her series set in 17th century Japan. I find these books are an interesting way to learn of this exotic land. The book opens with Sano Ichiro’s wedding which is interrupted as he is needed by the Shogun to investigate the death of a concubine.

Sano’s marriage is off to a rocky start as his new bride, Reiko, makes clear her desire to be involved in his work. While he believes his role is to protect his wife and shield her from life‘s unpleasant side, as the case develops he comes to a better understanding of how little power or independence women have. By allowing his wife some leeway, he is also able to open doors in the investigation that were closed to him.

As Sano conducts his investigation he becomes deeply involved in the daily life of the Shogun’s court, with jealous retainers trying to increase their influence, rigid samurai who cling to the traditional ways, and courtiers who involve themselves in any number of petty quarrels and sexual liasons. Of course, his long time rival, Chamberlain Yanagisawa sees this as an opportunity to discredit him and bring about his downfall.

I enjoy reading about this time period and the author includes rich historical details, great characters and some very twisted political schemes that enhance the mystery. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 21, 2014 |
Very sexy, but the crime/mystery was a little predictable. ( )
  eenerd | Jul 30, 2014 |
I like the main character, the mystery was interesting. However, political machinations, whether historical or current, leave me cold.

The relationship between the detective and his new wife was very unsatisfactory. After two meetings that both ended in slammed doors or screaming, I don't buy it that (in addition to being sexually aroused), the two began to fall in love. Two brief arguments and two days of (arranged) marriage do not a convincing couple make. If the author wanted to pull in the "they hate each other until they realize that they love each other" plotline, she should have picked up a few of the paperback mass-market romance novels. Those formulaic novels have that plotline down to a science.

I didn't see the necessity of all the sex or almost-sex; much of it would not have been missed if the author had just stuck to the character development and untangling the mystery. (Yes, there were places where it was useful to the story and no, I don't complain every time I read sex in a novel.)

And while I'm grousing - pick a language and stick with it. If the story is told in English, then don't throw in Japanese expressions and translate them. Use daimyo and let us figure it out, if you must, but for the love of Mike, stop writing "sumimasen - excuse me". Yes, we're intelligent enough to figure out after the FIRST time that 'sumimasen' might mean 'excuse me'. Or better yet - just write excuse me instead of "translating" it numerous times throughout the book. The word and its translation (again) don't add anything to the story and it's not consistent throughout the book - the characters say 'yes' an awful lot in the book, why isn't it written "Hai - yes"?

The underlying story, adventure and relationship had great potential; unfortunately the occasional satisfying glimmers were dulled by writing that tried to be too clever. ( )
  FiberBabble | Mar 30, 2013 |
A lushly told historical whodunit set in 17th century Japan, centered around the investigations of the Shogun's top private investigator, Inspector Sano. Part of a larger series, it is full of court intrigue and the complexities of Japanese society at multiple levels. It is very sexy, and gets into some kinky stuff so if you're embarrassed about that stuff you may want to try another author. A little plodding for my taste, and somewhat predictable, but the characters were enjoyable and the historical details were decadent. ( )
  eenerd | Jan 28, 2013 |
Decent mystery, but definitely not a page-turner. The stakes are reasonably high, so it passes with an "OK." The really interesting part is to see the details of the Shogun's court and get a slight glimpse into Samurai society. When it boils down to it, it's more of a political-intrigue novel than a mystery. Maybe if I had read the other books in the series, I would have been more invested in the characters, but I think the main problem was I was expecting a tight whodunnit and got a semi-historic novel instead. ( )
  -Eva- | Jun 17, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rowland, Laura Johprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Faktor, ViktorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neuhaus, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Pamela Gray Ahearn,
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"It is my privilege to open this ceremony in which Sosakan San Ichiro and Lady Ueda Reiko shall be united in marriage before the gods."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
blurb: A richly crafted novel set in seventeenth-century Japan, The Concubine’s Tattoo unfolds with all the excitement of a superb murder mystery and a sweeping, sensuous portrait of an exotic land. Sano Ichiro, the shoguns most honorable investigator, is summoned to the imperial palace to find the murderer of Harume, a young concubine poisoned while applying a lover’s tattoo. Sano’s new bride, Reiko, insists on helping him with the case. Reiko’s samurai blood and warrior’s skill alarm her new husband, who expected a docile wife. But Reiko is only the first of many surprises…..
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312969228, Mass Market Paperback)

Twenty months spent as the shogun's sosakan-sama--most honorable investigator of events, situations, and people--has left Sano Ichiro weary. He looks forward to the comforts that his arranged marriage promises: a private life with a sweet, submissive wife and a month's holiday to celebrate their union. However, the death of the shogun's favorite concubine interrupts the couple's wedding ceremony and shatters any hopes the samurai detective had about enjoying a little peace with his new wife.

After Sano traces the cause of Lady Harume's death to a self-inflicted tattoo, he must travel into the cloistered, forbidden world of the shogun's women to untangle the complicated web of Harume's lovers, rivals, and troubled past, and identify her killer. To make matters worse, Reiko, his beautiful young bride, reveals herself to be not a traditional, obedient wife, but instead, a headstrong, intelligent, aspiring detective bent on helping Sano with his new case. Sano is horrified at her unladylike behavior, and the resulting sparks make their budding love as exciting as they mystery surrounding Lady Harume's death. Amid the heightened tensions and political machinations of feudal Japan, Sano faces a daunting complex investigation.
As subtle as the finest lacquered screen, as powerful as the slash of a sword, Laura Joh Rowland's The Concubine's Tattoo vividly brings to life a story of murder, jealousy, sexual intrigue, and political storms that keeps is in its spell until the final, shattering scene.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:46 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A shogun's concubine dies in 17th century Japan, poisoned by the ink she used to tattoo her private parts. As he investigates the murder, Inspector Sano Ichiro is drawn into a world of intrigue among the shogun's women.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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