THE WAY OF THE TRAITOR by Laura Joh Rowland


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 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. Jan Spaen, the Dutch East India Company's missing director of trade, is found dead on a chilly beach, and his restless companions aboard a Dutch ship riding in the harbor have to be pacified while Sano investigates his murder. His superiors on Nagasaki--Governor Nagai and Ohira Yonemon, chief officer of the island compound of Deshima--want to disarm the Dutch, but Sano, made uneasy by the unfair treatment of the foreign barbarians and drawn by his budding friendship with the ship's surgeon, allows them to keep their weapons--a serious mistake, he realizes, when the evidence points to a Japanese killer and the Dutch commander threatens to attack the city, starting a full- scale war, unless Sano brings him the head of the killer within two days. Meantime, though, Sano's unearthed a smuggling ring whose leaders seem to be the city fathers, who promptly frame him for smuggling, arrest him, and remove him from the investigation. Will Sano finally be hamstrung by the conflicting demands of his roles as detective, avenger, diplomat, vassal, and man of honor? Of course, he won't. 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.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-44900-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997


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