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The Way of the Traitor

by Laura Joh Rowland

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sano Ichiro Mysteries (3)

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446345,448 (3.63)18
In 1690 Nagasaki, the body of a Dutch trader washes up on the coast where foreign "barbarians" are lodged and guarded. Japan's preeminent detective-samurai, Sano Ichiro, risks his honor and his life to find the killer.
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The Way of the Traitor is the third book in Laura Joh Rowland’s historical mystery series set in feudal Japan. We follow the adventures of Sano Ichiro, recently appointed Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations and People by the Shogun. The Shogun’s jealous favorite arranges to have Sano assigned to an inspection tour of Nagasaki which will remove Sano from the capital for up to a year.

Arriving in Nagasaki and finding it a hotbed of political treachery, Sano becomes involved in the murder investigation of a Dutch trade captain whose mutilated body has washed ashore. Not knowing who to trust, Sano falls victim to a plot that sees him accused of treason. Only the solving of the crime will prove his innocence.

As with all her books, a well researched historical mystery that holds the interest and gives us a colourful and detailed look at Japan in the 1690’s. I would recommend that a reader start with the first book in this series, Shinju, as there is a definite timeline to these mysteries. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 12, 2011 |
First of the Sano Ichiro series.
  booksofcolor | Jul 10, 2009 |
More than a year has passed since the last book in the Sano Ichirō 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, in these times, 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 Ms 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.

(Dec 30, 2007) ( )
4 vote Lman | Dec 30, 2007 |
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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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Like a pale moon, the sun's white globe rose in a mesh of drifting clouds above the eastern hills beyond Nagasaki, the international port city on Kyushu, the westernmost of Japan's four major islands.
-- Prologue
Through the desolate streets of nighttime Edo marched Sano Ichiro, the shogun's sosakan-sama -- Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People.
-- Chapter One
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In 1690 Nagasaki, the body of a Dutch trader washes up on the coast where foreign "barbarians" are lodged and guarded. Japan's preeminent detective-samurai, Sano Ichiro, risks his honor and his life to find the killer.

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