Book info

The Concubine's Tattoo (2000)

The Concubine's Tattoo (2000)
Rating
3.85 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0312969228 (ISBN13: 9780312969226)
languge
English
series
publisher
st. martin's paperbacks
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The Concubine's Tattoo (2000)
The Concubine's Tattoo (2000)

About book: I picked up the Concubine's Tattoo over the holidays with the plan of reading the next of the Sano Ichiro mysteries soon. With the start of the New Year, I delved into the book and found myself drawn forward. I was not disappointed.The book begins in Edo, days after Sano Ichiro's return from Nagasaki, at the wedding between Ichiro and Ueda Reiko. The celebration is cut short when Harume, one of the shogun's concubines, runs out from the Large Interior into the procession of concubines and dies. Ichiro is charged by the shogun to discover the cause of her death, cutting short his expected month's vacation.The book adds a number of characters to the growing cast of the series as well as continuing to develop previously established characters. Reiko is shown to be vibrant and assertive. She compliments Ichiro well and provides him with interesting challenges. Hirata's inferiority with woman of rank comes to light. Yanagisawa finds the love he always needed, though what he does with that love is an interesting matter. Midori, from Shinju, is reintroduced as an attendant in the Large Interior. Magistrate Ueda is shown to be a strong proponent for justice, but he has problems standing up to the demands of his daughter. Ryuko is a Buddhist priest who uses the Tokagawa bafuku to his own ends through the shogun's mother, Keisho-in, who may be a great fool or a cunning actress.And these are just a few of the characters and portrayals. Each is distinct, allowing one to be distinguished from the other. I am interested to see what happens to this cast of characters over the next few books. If she continues to add, I am afraid that it may become unwieldy. I suppose I will have to read and find out.The story is well paced, working out the conflict of Ichiro and Reiko's marriage, Hirata's struggle with Ichiteru - one of the suspects, and the overall investigation of the murder of Harume. The political tensions are much more present than in Way of the Traitor, returning to their previous levels, but Yanagisawa puts a new twist to his machinations and possibly brings about his own ruin.The book is a great read, and it pulled me along strongly. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes period mysteries, the Japanese setting or a little political intrigue. I will be reading the next one soon.

So. Rowland's books about Sano Ichiro the Edo-era detective are my guilty pleasure, because they are so cheesy it's charming. Reading them is like watching a cheap theatrical production: everything just reeks of cardboard and paint, but the actors are so serious and sweaty that it becomes fun to watch them.There was not even one character behaving reasonably: neither Sano the shogun's investigator, nor his subordinates, his rival Chamberlain Yanagisawa, Sano's new wife Reiko (!), shogun's mother, her lover, no one. They were all stumbling in the dark. The whole plot was possible because everyone was so stupid: the supposed villain relying on his lover instead of his highly trained spies, the women longing after something to do, as if their daily life wasn't hectic enough, the shogun and his mother allowing hordes of men into the Great Interior of Edo Castle. Well. It was all needed in order for the story to happen.What I liked about the book was the ability of the author to convey the atmosphere of a place with a few sentences. That's a considerable skill. Also, I liked m/m action (Yanagisawa and his actor lover). Other than that, nothing good can be said about the book, I guess. I don't know if anyone thinks that the historical details in it are accurate, and if someone does, then I can't help. One thing is probably worth mentioning: the poverty of Danzaemon the eta leader. No. Danzaemon is a hereditary name all leaders of the group inherited, and they were VERY rich.Oh and Oka Basho is not a proper name. It's just a word for an unlicensed prostitute quarter, and Edo had dozens of these.
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Reviews
Shari
A light but entertaining read. Once again Rowland creates a fascinating world in Japan's Edo Period. It was interesting to read the history of Tokyo and compare its appearance to its modern version. It seemed that so much and also so little have changed in the centuries that have passed. I was in the district of Asakusa last month and the place in Sano's time can still be seen there; there are still many shops around and the temples are still very much visited by the Japanese. (There was even a puppet show that was beautifully and exquisitely performed.) The Sumida River is just a few minutes away on foot, and up to now still a major artery of the city. And standing over it is the world's highest radio tower that just opened, the Sky Tree. Reading the Sano books make me appreciate the city I live in.
Roberta
This is the 4th book in the well-written mystery series featuring Sano, a samuai detective. I especially enjoyed Sano's encounters with his assertive new bride and his growing understanding of the stultifying life of women in the late 1600's in Japan. My rating is based on my personal reaction to the plot which has many incidents of graphic sexual material, which I should have expected in a tale called The Concubine's Tattoo -- it's about "concubinage." But it's also about voyeurism, sexual violence, and depravity. I found it hard to finish.
Erin
Oh smut, how you reel me in and keep me coming back for more! Rowland's Sano Ichiro series is light and enjoyable, perfect for that non-committal reading phase I've been in. I initially picked up The Samurai's Wife, 5th in the series, and was hooked. Going back to the beginning, I've been surprised at just how much sex is in these books! There's a little bit of something for everyone one, though one running theme leaves me more than a little squeamish. I'd recommend if you're looking for something fun and quick. Nothing high-brow here! ;)
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