Books by Laura Joh Rowland

LAURA JOH ROWLAND, the granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, was educated at the University of Michigan and now lives in New Orleans with her husband. The Assassin's Touch is the tenth in her widely acclaimed series featuring Sano Ichiro.


A MORTAL LIKENESS by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 9, 2018

"The plot of Rowland's second Victorian mystery is a bit overstuffed but boasts a winning team of outsider heroes and a colorful first-person narrative."
A photographer and sometime sleuth dances with death when she searches for a missing infant in Victorian England. Read full book review >
THE RIPPER'S SHADOW by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"Rowland, author of the long-running Sano Ichiro mystery series (The Iris Fan, 2014, etc.), has assembled an appealingly ragtag collection of amateur sleuths and keeps suspense high."
An intrepid female photographer tracks the serial killer of the (19th) century. Read full book review >
THE SHOGUN'S DAUGHTER by Laura Joh Rowland
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 17, 2013

"Rowland's 17th showcases both her stylistic elegance and her historical knowledge. The deepening portraits of series characters will amply reward faithful fans."
A veteran investigator in feudal Japan probes a suspicious death with enormous political consequences. Read full book review >
THE RONIN'S MISTRESS by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 13, 2011

"Based on a true story explained in an opening historical note, Sano's 15th appearance unfolds with Rowland's typical elegance, bolstered by its roots in reality and the family drama that nicely counterpoints the sleuthing adventure."
A veteran Japanese sleuth endangers himself to solve a tantalizing samurai murder mystery. Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 17, 2010

Love draws the Victorian novelist into another breathtaking adventure. Read full book review >
THE CLOUD PAVILION by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 3, 2009

"Gracefully written and replete with historical detail, more character-driven and linearly plotted than most of its 13 predecessors, this is a fine entry point for series newbies."
Multiple crimes challenge Chamberlain Sano Ichiro, along with the return of a bitter rival. Read full book review >
THE FIRE KIMONO by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 11, 2008

"Far from being distracting, the historic setting is mesmerizing. Great escape fiction."
A toppled tree exposes the bones of a boy murdered 43 years earlier in the heat of the great 17th-century fire that leveled Edo, the huge predecessor to Tokyo. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2008

"A very Victorian murder, the evils of British imperialism and a beloved novelist unite in this appealing literary mystery."
Charlotte Brontë is drawn into a web of political intrigue in the latest novel from Rowland, author of the Sano Ichiro series (The Snow Empress, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
THE SNOW EMPRESS by Laura Joh Rowland
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

"Rowland's 12th Ichiro mystery threatens to become overheated and overplotted, but abundant historical color and an elegant, controlled style keep it nicely grounded."
A Japanese sleuth must venture to a remote territory to find his missing son. Read full book review >
RED CHRYSANTHEMUM by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 21, 2006

"Rowland's historical detail and graceful prose enhance another solid mystery."
A 17th-century Japanese sleuth must clear his pregnant wife of a murder charge. Read full book review >
THE ASSASSIN’S TOUCH by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 8, 2005

"A pair of conventional mysteries elegantly told and interspersed with delicious bits of history."
In the late-17th century, a Japanese husband and wife undertake separate probes of two murders. Read full book review >
THE PERFUMED SLEEVE by Laura Joh Rowland
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 16, 2004

"In her eighth quasi-historical chronicle, Rowland, always preoccupied by the conjunction of sex and politics, pushes aside the mystery altogether to stir up a stew of sexual and political intrigue, above which Sano stoically rises."
Sano Ichiro is used to subtle dangers, like daggers in the back; now he faces outright civil war between two armies massing in the City of Edo. Read full book review >
THE DRAGON KING’S PALACE by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 21, 2003

"A lively dissection of the samurai code of honor, sexual dishonor, palace infighting, and ancient Japanese mores."
Who can resist the demands of Lady Keisho-in, the shogun's imperious mother? Read full book review >
THE PILLOW BOOK OF LADY WISTERIA by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 15, 2002

"Rowland, whose historical backgrounds always flavor Sano's adventures, offers this time a double helping of exotic sexual practices. Readers will have to decide whether such salacious details spice or undercut Sano's struggle to remain honorable in a dishonorable world."
Samurai Sano Ichiro, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations and People, and his wife, Reiko, are recovering from the spiritual and emotional malaise of their last case (Black Lotus, 2001) when the shogun's heir apparent, Honorable Lord Matsudaira Read full book review >
BLACK LOTUS by Laura Joh Rowland
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 1, 2001

"Honor and spiritual emptiness have a suspiciously contemporary feel in a mystery that can't decide which is more dangerous: love or the coming apocalypse."
Sano Ichiro, Most Honorable Investigator for the shogun in 17th-century Japan (The Samurai's Wife, 2000, etc.), tackles the murder of the police commander, Oyama Jushin, and an unidentified woman and child whose burned bodies have been found in a charred building on the grounds of the Black Lotus Temple, a new and influential Buddhist sect. Read full book review >
THE SAMURAI'S WIFE by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 2000

"Each, though, will soon be whisked through the tale, slowed only occasionally by too-blunt exposition, a too-contemporary colloquialism, or the evocative charms of an exotic setting. (Author tour)"
Despite its mighty samurai and web of spies, the military elite in Rowland's 17th-century Japan does not reign secure (The Way of the Traitor, 1997, etc.). Read full book review >
THE WAY OF THE TRAITOR by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1997

"But tension rides high as Rowland (Bundori, 1996, etc.) takes every clichÇ of the One Just Man genre—the civic conspiracy, the prostitute in love, the impossible deadline, the massacre of innocents, the man on the run—and refracts them all through the code of Bushido."
Packed off to a routine inspection of remote Nagasaki by a jealous chamberlain bent on curtailing his access to his lord, samurai detective Sano Ichir is hardly off the boat when trouble strikes. Read full book review >
BUNDORI by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1996

"Not as rich and resourceful as Sano's striking debut—the demands of bushido are asked to carry too much of the interest- -but Rowland still masterfully evokes the subtleties and contradictions of 17th-century Japan."
A second case for samurai Sano Ichir, elevated to Tokugawa Tsunayoshi's Most Honorable Investigator after his success in Shinju (1994). Read full book review >
SHINJU by Laura Joh Rowland
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

"This impressive first novel features a plot that's perfectly adapted to its historical background: Sano's growing terror of humiliation and dishonor comes across much more keenly than any contemporary setting would allow."
A shinju is a double love-suicide—precisely what the deaths of noblewoman Niu Yukiko and peasant artist Noriyoshi aren't, despite first appearances. Read full book review >