Multiple crimes challenge Chamberlain Sano Ichiro, along with the return of a bitter rival.
It’s 1701 and Sano has risen steadily from the position of Most Honorable Investigator to right hand of Japan’s supreme dictator Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. At a battle game designed to entertain the shogun and his court, as well as to quell the restlessness of inactive warriors, “General” Sano defeats a masked opposing general who reveals himself as Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, Sano’s former nemesis and predecessor as chamberlain. He’s returned from exile an apparently changed man, a prodigal son warmly welcomed by the shogun. But Sano has doubts, almost immediately confirmed in scenes with Yanagisawa and his devoted son Yoritomo. Despite past grievances, Sano’s estranged uncle, Major Kumazawa, appeals for help in locating his missing daughter Chiyo. Riding to the temple where she was last seen, Sano soon finds Chiyo and learns that she’s been raped. He is hot to find the culprit, but Kumazawa wants to keep the crime secret. Sano’s wife Reiko, who got a taste for detective work in her husband’s last outing (The Cloud Pavillon, 2009, etc.), is anxious to test her skills again. More crimes follow when Sano’s probe takes him to Edo’s dangerous criminal underworld, but an even greater challenge is keeping control of those around him, all with clashing agendas.
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.