Adam B. Vary
November 17, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

Red Chrysanthemum

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Laura Joh Rowland
publisher
St. Martin's Minotaur
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

In her 11th book about samurai Sano Ichiro — now second-in-command to the shogun in 1698 Japan — Laura Joh Rowland sets the stakes high. Sano’s beset on all sides by sworn enemies (and allies); his loyal deputy seems alarmingly distracted; he’s accused of mounting a coup — all while investigating the murder of a local lord, whose castrated body was found next to a naked, pregnant woman: Sano’s wife. Blending political intrigue and barbed sexual commentary, Rowland builds Red Chrysanthemum‘s pulpy setup into a crisply lurid Rashomon mystery that makes up in page-turnability what it lacks in surprise.

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