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Showing posts tagged: Laura Joh Rowland click to see more stuff tagged with Laura Joh Rowland
Jan 11 2017 1:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: January 10, 2017

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

This week, we have a new Veronica Speedwell Mystery from Deanna Raybourn and an exciting debut from Jane Harper. See what else the week brought for books!

[See this week's Top 5...]

Dec 5 2014 11:45am

The Iris Fan: New Excerpt

Laura Joh Rowland

The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland is the 18th mystery and finale of this acclaimed series set in feudal Japan, featuring the recently demoted Sano Ichirō whose last case will involve a brutal attack on the shogunate itself  (available December 9, 2014).

Japan, 1709. The shogun is old and ailing. Amid the ever-treacherous intrigue in the court, Sano Ichirō has been demoted from chamberlain to a lowly patrol guard. His relationship with his wife Reiko is in tatters, and a bizarre new alliance between his two enemies Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu has left him puzzled and wary. Sano’s onetime friend Hirata is a reluctant conspirator in a plot against the ruling regime. Yet, Sano's dedication to the Way of the Warrior—the samurai code of honor—is undiminished.

Then a harrowing, almost inconceivable crime takes place. In his own palace, the shogun is stabbed with a fan made of painted silk with sharp-pointed iron ribs. Sano is restored to the rank of chief investigator to find the culprit. This is the most significant, and most dangerous, investigation of his career. If the shogun's heir is displeased, he will have Sano and his family put to death without waiting for the shogun's permission, then worry about the consequences later. And Sano has enemies of his own, as well as unexpected allies. As the previously unimaginable death of the shogun seems ever more possible, Sano finds himself at the center of warring forces that threaten not only his own family but Japan itself.


SLOW, HISSING BREATHS expanded and contracted the air in a chamber as dark as the bottom of a crypt. Wind shook the shutters. Sleet pattered onto the tile roof. In the corridor outside the chamber, the floor creaked under stealthy footsteps. The shimmering yellow glow of an oil lamp diffused across the room’s lattice-and-paper wall. The footsteps halted outside the room; the door slid open as quietly as a whisper. A hand draped in the sleeve of a black kimono held the lamp across the threshold. The flame illuminated a futon, covered with a gold brocade satin quilt, in which two human shapes slumbered.

[Continue reading Laura Joh Rowland's The Iris Fan...]

Sep 14 2013 10:45am

Fresh Meat: The Shogun’s Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland

The Shogun's Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland, a novel of feudal Japan featuring samurai Sano IchiroThe Shogun's Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland is the seventeenth novel featuring samurai sleuth Sano Ichirō of the court of the shogun in 17th Century Edo (available September 17, 2013).

When the daughter of the shogun dies of smallpox, a power struggle erupts among the court, since she did not live to bear him heirs. Yoshisato is a teenager who's been raised as the son of Sano's archenemy, Yanagisawa, and emerges as the recently “discovered” son of the shogun and, therefore, the new heir to the throne. When Yanagisawa uses the tragedy to enrich his own power and take revenge upon Sano, who is demoted from the shogun's chamberlain, the suspicions surrounding Tsuruhime's death multiply. Sano must find the truth with his pregnant wife's and adolescent son's help, or his entire family may perish in the aftermath.

The seventeenth novel in the Sano Ichirō series amps up the intrigue. Set after a powerful earthquake devastates the city, the infighting and power-playing of the samurai lords is put in stark view. If you enjoyed James Clavell's Shogun or courtly power struggles in other historical contexts, Rowland pulls the strings of tension taut here. Whether you are familiar with Edo period Japan or new to it, she offers a fascinating glimpse into the era's history with a spread of compelling characters, from Sano himself to his reckless samurai friend Hirata, who returns to the city with a ruthless warrior cult on his tail.

[Warriors and deathwishes aboud...]

Apr 15 2013 11:00am

Romantic Times 2013 Reviewers Choice Mystery, Suspense and Thriller Awards

Romantic Times Banner

Despite its name, Romantic Times reviews far more than just romance novels. This is likely because—much like crime fiction fans—romance fans read in many genres. They've just announced their full list of reviewer's choice awards, and we've posted the ones that apply to us! Winners in each category are in bold. Congratulations, one and all!




  • The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris
  • Viral by James Lilliefors
  • The Deep Zone by James M. Tabor
  • Hush Money by Chuck Greaves
  • Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes



  • Gem of a Ghost by Sue Ann Jaffarian
  • Blood, Bath and Beyond by Michelle Rowen
  • Bad Little Falls by Paul Doiron
  • Popped Off by Jeffrey Allen
  • Postcards from the Dead by Laura Childs
  • The Twelve Clues of Chrismas by Rhys Bowen


Sep 11 2012 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Incense Game by Laura Joh Rowland

Laura Joh Rowland, The Incense GameThe Incense Game by Laura Joh Rowland is the 16th book in the Sano Ichiro series. Set in feudal Japan, it follows the career of a samurai who struggles with the conflict between his adherence to the code of Bushido and his personal sense of integrity (available September 18, 2012).

With this series, Laura Joh Rowland has successfully created an original meld of two genres, combining hardboiled mystery with the period piece (it’s okay to be skeptical: I was once, too.) As The Incense Game begins, Sano has risen to one of the most powerful positions in the land, far distant from where he was 14 years ago, when he was merely a minor functionary determined to pursue the truth behind a suspicious ritual suicide no matter what the cost.

[But promotion hasn’t changed his essential personality . . .]

Sep 27 2011 2:00pm

The Mystery Of The Historical Literary Sleuth

Dorothy Parker, Literary Sleuth?While perusing the bookshelves in the mystery section of my local Barnes and Noble, I noticed an interesting trend, that of the Literary Sleuth. Mystery novels featuring Jane Austen, Dorothy Parker, Daphne du Maurier, Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte Bronte, to name just a few. Well besides being real life literary icons whose books are classics of literature, they all have a sideline as amateur sleuths (Dorothy Parker is so popular that she features in series by two different authors!).

[Plotting and scheming and planning, oh my!]

Sep 6 2011 3:00pm

The Ronin’s Mistress: New Excerpt

Laura Joh Rowland

The Ronin’s Mistress by Laura Joh Rowland

Japan, 1703.

On a snowy night, 47 warriors murder the man at the center of the scandal that turned them from samurai into masterless ronin two years before. Clearly this was an act of revenge—but why did they wait so long? And is there any reason they should not immediately be ordered to commit ritual suicide?

Sano Ichiro, demoted from Chamberlain to his old post as Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, has mere days to solve the greatest mystery of samurai legend—while his own fortunes hang in the balance.


Edo, Month 12, Geroku Year 15
(Tokyo, February 1703)


Snow sifted from the night sky over Edo. The wind howled, whipping the snow into torn veils, piling drifts against the shut­tered buildings. Flakes gleamed in white halos around lamps at the gates at every intersection. Time was suspended, the city frozen in a dream of winter.

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