Namioka's conscientious research is obtrusive at first when Zenta and Matsuzo, itinerant 16th-century samurai, sometimes sound like lecturers on Japanese culture. Then the pair is hired to guard two Portuguese missionaries, Zenta finds himself forced to turn detective in order to clear his masters of a murder charge, and subtle details of costume, swordsmanship, and manners are transformed into clues. The motive for the crime is hidden behind a stolen gun and layers of political intrigue and, ultimately and startlingly, hinges partly on Zenta's own unbending sense of honor. Zenta conducts himself soberly without resort to fancy dress prose, and when he himself becomes a fugitive by virtue of his own successful solution the plucky, ingenious doings take a philosophical turn--can one be literally too good for this world? After a so-so beginning, a neatly turned entertainment.