“When beautiful, wealthy Yukiko and low-born artist Noriyoshi are found drowned together in a shinju, or ritual double suicide, everyone believes the culprit was forbidden love. Everyone but newly appointed yoriki Sano Ichiro. Despite the official verdict and warnings from his superiors, the shogun’s Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People suspects the deaths weren’t just a tragedy — they were murder. Risking his family’s good name and his own life, Sano will search for a killer across every level of society — determined to find answers to a mystery no one wants solved. No one but Sano
As subtle and beautiful as the culture it evokes, Shinju vividly re-creates a world of ornate tearooms and guady pleasure-palaces, cloistered mountaintop convents and dealthy prisons. Part love story, part mystery, Shinju is a tour that will dazzle and entertain all who enter its world.” Shelfari
What I Thought
This book is an excellent crash course to medieval Japan – it’s caste system, values, daily life and it’s lower political structure. Following a newly made yoriki, essentially a constable, who is throughly disliked and mocked by his peers since he got the job through non-traditional means. Sano Ichiro goes through the book doing what he feels is right versus what convention and tradition dictate. I think that the setup of this first book was great as it ends with a lot of interesting possibilites for the rest of the series.
The mystery itself was pretty humdrum. Halfway through the book the author essentially shows her hand and the rest is just a lead up to the inevitable. Oddly enough though that doesn’t really bother you as you read.
The reason for this is how detailed everything is described. This book is truly saved by the fact that you’re reading about the history and people of Edo. I couldn’t get enough, but if you’re not into historically detailed books then you might want to pass but know you’ll be passing up on such an interesting subject. The descriptions of the Samurai customs, the way the rich and poor are treated, family values, work ethic, morgue rules, the ins and out of Edo itself are all fantastic.
I am excited to read more in this series. I love ‘dead body’ books and I am happy to learn loads about a culture history I know little about without feeling like it’s homework.