SHINJU – (Official Investigator-Japan-1600s) – G Rowland, Laura Joh – 1st in series
Harper Torch, 1994, Paperback

Sano Ichiro is newly, and somewhat unhappily, been appointed as an investigator. His first case is that of Shinju, the ritual double suicide of a low-born artist and the wealthy daughter of an important family. He is told to drop his investigation, but Sano is convinced it was murder and is driven to find the killer.

Rowland has done a good job of conveying the sights, sounds, smells, social structure and traditions of 17th century Japan. Sano, while in his role unwillingly, is both physically and intellectually capable, and I enjoyed his dedication and humanity. I found it slow at times, and the plot weak, but still a decent read.

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