Japan, March 1700. Near a Shinto shrine in the hills, a windstorm knocks down a tree to uncover a human skeleton, long buried and forgotten. Meanwhile, in the nearby city of Edo, troops ambush and attack Lady Reiko, the wife of Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective who has risen to power and influence in the shogun’s court. The troops who attacked Reiko appear to belong to Sano’s fiercest enemy, Lord Matsudaira, who denies all responsibility. But if the rivals are not to blame for each other’s misfortune, who is?
Just as Sano’s strife with Matsudaira begins to escalate to the brink of war, the shogun orders Sano to investigate the origins of the mysterious skeleton, buried with swords that identify it as belonging to the shogun’s cousin, who disappeared forty years earlier on the night that a cursed kimono touched off a fire that nearly destroyed the city.
Suddenly, Sano and Reiko are forced to confront dangerous, long-buried secrets that expose Sano’s own mother as the possible culprit. The shogun gives Sano and Reiko just three days to clear her name—or risk losing not only their position at court but their families’ lives.
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Laura Joh Rowland, the granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, was educated at the University of Michigan and now lives in New Orleans with her husband. The Fire Kimono is the thirteenth novel in her acclaimed series of thrillers featuring Sano Ichiro.From School Library Journal:
Adult/High School—Sano Ichiro, second in command to the shogun, is preparing for war against his enemy, Lord Matsudaira. The shogun is weak and unable to rule effectively and the two wage battle behind his back, each wanting to stop the other from gaining more power. In the thick of this enmity, a skeleton is unearthed and discovered to be the body of the shogun's cousin, murdered 40 years earlier. Sano is sent to investigate, only to find that his own mother is implicated. He must not only save her from execution, but also come to terms with the secrets she's held all his life. This turn of events provides Lord Matsudaira with the fodder he needs to try to oust Sano. The story threads are neatly tied up to create a satisfactory ending that leaves readers wanting more about these all-too-human characters. This series stars Sano and his wife, Reiko, who solve mysteries. The book can be read on its own, but it would be a richer experience for teens familiar with the preceding titles. The plot is complicated, with many auxiliary stories taking place alongside the thread of the mystery. Rowland brings Sano, his wife, a cast of supporting characters, and 18th-century Japan to life with a sweet, simple writing style.—Connie Williams, Kenilworth Jr. High, Petaluma, CA
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