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Bundori by Laura Joh Rowland

Bundori (1996)

by Laura Joh Rowland

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sano Ichiro Mysteries (2)

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487521,072 (3.53)12



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Showing 5 of 5
The setting of this book is historical, and one that I am familiar with: the Tokugawa Shogunate at Edo in Japan, 1689. There are now (2014) 18 titles in this popular series spanning 1689 to 1709. The historical and cultural setting is richly and authentically described. I began with the second in the series as my library does not have the first available. There are references in this title to the events in the first book.

As the number of victims of the Bundori Killer mounts various districts of the capital go into panic and there are fires and vigilantes and the Shogun gives Sano four days to find the killer or face exile himself. Sano constantly reminds himself of the promise he made to his dying father to bring the family name into a position of honour, but for a while it looks as if he will only achieve disgrace.

The Shogun, Tsunayoshi Tokugawa, relies heavily on his Chamberlain Yanagisawa who seems determined to point out Sano's failures. Readers of modern day police procedurals may well reflect that nothing much has changed.

An enjoyable and satisfying read. ( )
  smik | Aug 13, 2014 |
When bumma was in the Hospice Center, where cancer finally claimed her June 28, I was at her bedside reading. The Hospice Center had a wonderful abundance of books, so when I'd finish mine, I'd exchange it for one on the book exchange shelf. This was one such book. I register and release it in bumma's memory and in her honor. She was the one who instilled my love of reading and of books. She was a fantastic mom and I miss her. I like this series a lot and have read several in it. One of my University degrees is in Asian Studies, and the details here delighted me. ( )
  bookczuk | Jun 12, 2011 |
Bundori, by Laura Joh Rowland, is a slow moving detective story set in 17th Century feudal Japan. Sano Ichiro, the main character, succeeds not through brilliant leaps of logic but through doggedly pursuing all leads. At times, he seems to succeed almost in spite of himself.

What I found more interesting that the detective story was Rowland’s depiction of the time period. Wealth did bring a certain degree of influence, but it did not control the real power, the Samurai class. Yet, the Samurai were not all glory either. This time period was more like our Wild West: out of work warriors frequently took to being swords for hire. They did have a strict code of honor, and that code becomes corrupt for some. That is the basis for the plot.

Not rich enough in historical personages to really be historical fiction, the book may best be described as a period piece with a mystery twist. Overall it was enjoyable makes for some light reading; three and a half stars. ( )
  PghDragonMan | Oct 24, 2010 |
This is the second book in this mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland. Set in 17th century feudal Japan, we follow along with Sano Ichiro as he, at the shogun’s request, investigates a series of beheadings . After the killer decapitates his victims, he mounts the heads and leaves them on display as a “Bundori” or war trophy. The young samurai has pledged to follow the way of “Bushido”, a samurai code of honour, and he is determined to solve these murders. He is very much the outsider at the Shogun’s court and unfortunately the petty jealousies and court intrigues that swirl around him makes honour difficult to hold onto.

This is an excellent historical mystery series. Laura Joh Rowland gives us both a good, suspenseful read and an added bonus of lots of historical details about Japan in the 17th century. I enjoyed Bundori and look forward to the next book in this series. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 5, 2010 |
Bundori, the second book in the Sano Ichirō series, finds our hero ensconced in Edo Castle as the Shogun’s ‘Most Honourable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People’. Despite this increase in fortune, the death of his father and the fact that there is little to do in this role of sōsakan-sama makes Sano lonely and unhappy. The murder of a loyal vassal to the Shogun and the nature of the crime - the head is mounted as a trophy, a Bundori, a tradition of war but not in times of peace - offers work for Sano, a way to fulfil his dying father’s wish and to cement his standing in society. The first death is quickly linked to a previous case and after another Bundori murder, the fear and reaction of the populace pushes Sano to try to apprehend the killer fast.

The investigation of this murder again allows the author to carry the reader to a far distant past, and with the same aplomb as her first story, the life of 17th century Japan is brightly portrayed across the pages. With the help and hindrance of the castle’s inhabitants Sano must unravel past occurrences to determine the whys and wherefores behind the murders while avoiding his own demise. Threatened early in his investigation, mourning the loss of his father and losing his social status through the intrigues of powerful enemies, Sano diligently and doggedly applies himself to the task, thus taking the reader on a journey through the history, social mores and etiquette of the times. Detective work is very different in medieval Japan, though corrupt officials, fawning sycophants, intelligent archivists, diligent researchers, shadowy ‘ninja’ abilities of deduction and political machinations would all find a place today.

I was unsure who the true murderer was until close to the end of this book and, hence, was entertained throughout. I got very frustrated with Sano as he clung to Bushido: the Way of the Warrior despite the adverse effects on his quest for the truth; but this is what the author was trying to convey - and she succeeded splendidly as I longed for this century’s logic to prevail. I savoured learning more of the history behind the story and the lives of the people in that age. I wouldn't want to live in that time but I delighted in reading about it.

(Dec 25, 2007) ( )
4 vote Lman | Dec 30, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
This is an excellent read for anyone who loves to read historic mystery and also wants to learn a little about the Japanese culture. I read it in one day, it's a quick but very good read.
added by LaRhonda | editCleveland Plain Dealer, LaRhonda (Feb 22, 2011)

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rowland, Laura Johprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In memory of my grandparents:
Day Hung and Susanna Joh
Gow Sing and Quon Gin Lee
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As the hour of the boar approached, the great city of Edo lay shrouded in a heavy mist that blurred the darkness and muffled sound.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061011975, Mass Market Paperback)

It is early spring, 1679, and the feudal Japanese capital, Edo, is beginning to blossom. But along its peaceful, misty streets evil lurks. With one stroke, the favored vassal of the ruling family is decapitated, his head taken for a bundori -- a war trophy.
Sano Ichiro, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, is called to find the culprit. In a city where danger and deceit lie just below the lush surface, Sano must rely on his mind, his instincts, and his noble training in Bushido -- the Way of the Warrior -- to solve this case that could bring him glory...or everlasting shame. Set against a backdrop of sumptuous castles, tawdry pleasure districts, and serene temples, and filled with unforgettable, rich characters, Bundori is breathtaking entertainment.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In 17th Century Japan, Investigator Sano Ichiro probes a series of revenge killings connected to a century-old dispute. But how to bring the guilty to justice when they are powerful men? Part mystery, part personal drama as Sano--himself a samurai--tries valiantly to follow bushido, the way of the warrior in a society whose ancient noble ways have been all but forgotten.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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