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The Fire Kimono (Sano Ichiro #13)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  695 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Japan, March 1700. The strife between Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective who has risen to power in the shogun's court, and his enemies has escalated to the brink of war.

When a long-buried skeleton with mysterious links to the shogun suddenly comes to light, Sano and his wife, Reiko, who defies social conventions by joining in his investigations, must confront dangerous sec
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Minotaur Books (first published November 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,451)
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Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I find Laura Joh Rowland’s Sano Ichiro series entertaing. There is always a hint of a formula being used; Sano is at odds with his opponent in the Shogun’s court, it is dangerous for his family and himself, the odds are against him but good shall always prevail. Oh! And there’s always a bit of kinky sex. This may sound a bit too corny but Rowland manages to use this formula in ways that can end up keeping you enthralled, on the edge of your seat (as it were) wondering how the hell it’s all going ...more
Mika O'Donovan
Another novel in the Sano Ichiro series, with the requisite political machinations and murder, Fire Kimono follows the same general formula of the previous novels, but with added layers of familial loyalties that elevate the tale and give it deeper resonance. Although the author's formulaic approach in plotting and characterization are still evident, there are moments which flesh out some of the details and make the story more compelling.

The character of Lieutenant Asukai is portrayed more comp
Jul 14, 2014 Claire_D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books in the series, so far...

Fire Kimono primarily tells the story of Sano's mother, prior to her marriage to Sano's father. This is an interesting story as it implicates her in the killing of the shogun's cousin who was murdered years ago. Unveiling her story in this novel gave Sano another crime to solve bringing him and his whole clan in danger of banishment or worse, death.

The novel intricately weaves the lives of the characters as Sano and his team unearth the t
Nov 30, 2008 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a ridiculous number of Sano Ichiro novels now, and I was sucked in long ago. Unfortunately, like so many series, the quality has declined probably due to the one novel a year production calendar. I care about the characters and want to see how it ends, so I will stick with it. Plus it's a fix when I'm jonesin' for all things Japanese.
A bit slow and hard to get into. Set in 18th-century Japan, 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. During a storm, 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 impl ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Lollyletsgo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I put my review in, I have a question, and someone might know the answer- that's what I'm hoping anyway. In a series, why do authors feel compelled to recap what happened in previous adventures? And if they do, why not put is as part of a prologue, so that an individual not familiar with the characters can get a quick update or not and let this novel stand on its own? I unfortunately skipped 2 books when I picked this up, and now don't really feel the need to go back and read them as I al ...more
Sep 10, 2010 Joe rated it really liked it
Another visit with the samurai detective Sano Ichiro is always a great time. Murder, thrills, swordfights, politcal intrigues, sex: Rowland always delivers a trashy but thrilling adventure.

The balnce shifts a little this time around, being less of a mystery-though there is always a mystery-and more of a political thriller. Actually, not so much the sex either. The book is probably better for this, since the mystery this time around is not up to Rowland's usual standards, though the quality of th
Nov 27, 2010 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#13 in the historical Japanese mystery series featuring Sano Ichiro. This story opens in March, 1700 with the continuing rivalry between Sano and a cousin to the Shogun for control of the country. Sano is less interested in the power than he is in preventing others from taking over. His rise to his present position of Lord Chamberlain started with him becoming a chief detective to the Shogun. In the middle of escalating conflict between him and the rival cousin, Sano is charged with solving the ...more
Sep 20, 2015 Jana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting historical mystery set in the Edo period of Japan (circa 1700.) The author does a good job of portraying medieval Japanese customs, foods and attire while weaving in a compelling political drama and murder investigation. That said, it is one of a series of 13 novels with the same main character and it comes across as somewhat formulaic (you can generally guess what will happen and who-dunnit.) Never the less it is an entertaining quick-read.
May 16, 2015 Kassidy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laura Joh Rowland's series never ceases to amaze me. They are incredibly enjoyable and interesting! These books highlight why Japanese history is so great and unique.
My only minor complaint is with the main character, Sano. His values and beliefs, mainly about women and war, are very modernized and don't match the era and location he is in. I know he's meant to be the connection between the reader and the story but I find him a little unbelievable at times. But I commend the ending of the book
Catherine Woodman
THis is supposed to take place at the beginning of the 18th century, but there is alot about it in terms of traditional Japanese samurai society that seems like it could be sooner or later than that (of course, i really know almost nothing of what I am talking about...). the plot does have quite a bit of intrigue, rivalry, trickery, and plot twists, which I largely enjoy, and allowed me to overlook my complete, or almost complete lack of interest in the social structure described. The mystery is ...more
May 08, 2015 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book! I've been reading these books for a little over 10 years and have always enjoyed them, but this one had ms at the edge of my seat for a lot of the book. The shogun asks Sano to find out who killed a relative if is 40 something years earlier. I was surprised by who ended up doing it. Plus we say good by to an enemy of sanos and welcome back another! Decently worth reading especially if you like the Sano ichiro mysteries!
Apr 09, 2012 Steven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rowland presents a compelling picture of Tokugawa Era Japan. I wouldn't exactly call it a mystery in the traditional sense. The detective doesn't so much find clues and make brilliant logical deductions as fight difficult political battles while waiting for those who know whodunit to break down and confess the truth.

One thing I thought was a little odd--though it didn't detract from the book--was that Rowland included not one but two couples experiencing stress in their marriage as characters i
Feb 10, 2013 Leya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
Once again I was transported into a completely different era full of conflict, wars, the need to maintain the family honor and the mystery of a long ago death. That death somehow has a connection to a Kimono that brought death to various young serving girls. And it's that mystery that the shogun wants Sano, his chamberlain to investigate. But Sano soon discovers that his mother may have had a hand in the murder. His understandable conflict with the need to solve this murder and also protect his ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Jewel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, asian-lit
I lived in Japan for 5 months once. Even though the author claims to be the grandchild of Korean and Chinese immigrants, I still feel like this book is a very Americanized recreation of Judge Dee stories. There are many things historically accurate about this book; Tokugawa references, bakufu government, how Shinto shrines are arranged and well, how quickly old Japanese cities would burn due to the type of wood they used to build their houses before alternate materials were introduced. What I fo ...more
Joe Slavinsky
You know, I really loved this series, from the beginning, but it's starting to get a little stale. The characters are very familiar, but the court intrigue and plotting is starting to get predictable. I still enjoyed the book, but I think Rowland may be reaching the end of the line, soon.
Jan 30, 2013 Sallee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 13th book in the Sano Ichiro series. A human skeleton is found when a tree near a Shinto shrine is knocked down. In the city troops attack Reiko, Sano's wife and they wore the crest of Lord Matsudaira which is Sano's greatest enemy. Lord Matsudaira's family compound is attacked with a bomb and they are blaming each other. They each deny the attacks. But who is responsible?
The strife comes close to war. When swords found with the skeleton prove that it is a cousin of the Shogun, Sano
Ann Gallo
Oct 15, 2015 Ann Gallo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting presentation for a mystery, didn't realize it would be one. liked the way Sano went about solving an old murder. Samuari culture, rough way of live, all suffering for the sins of a family member at the whim of a shogun, wow.
Although it was somewhat predictable because it's within the same character and plot dynamics that show up in almost every book in this series, I was impressed with all the revelations about Sano's mother, and I ended up respecting her courage. That's the mother of a samurai!
Mar 16, 2010 Scilla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A skeletin is uncovered when a tree goes down near a Shinto shrine which is identified as Tadatoshi, a young relative of the shogun, who disappeared after a big fire 43 years previously. Soon, Sani's mother, Utsuko is arrested for the murder, accused by Doi, a samuri with Sani's enemy Lord Matsudaira. Sani cannot get his mother to talk with him, and things go from bad to worse. Sani finds the boy's tutor, Egen, who agrees to testify, and then accuses Sani's mother. Later Egen is found to be murd ...more
Apr 07, 2009 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Xarah
This novel is a good mix of what some of the previous books in this series have been missing--a mix of good palace intrigue and a good central mystery to go along with it. The antics of Lord Mastudaira is made all the more interesting when Yanagisawa shows back up--he's such a "hate him so much that he starts to grow on me" kind of villain that I was actually pretty happy to have him be a more central figure in this novel, and am definitely looking forward to seeing how he'll figure into the nex ...more
Dec 24, 2008 Vic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 13 in the series. After a slow start the story took off with the usual cast of characters, political intrigue and requisite mystery, this time a murder committed 43 years ago. In the process of solving the mystery new information is revealed about Sano's family and personal history. The ending is stellar with a first rate sword fight and twist that opens the door for many more additions to this long running series. I don't think Rowland's writing is always smooth or fluid, but her story lin ...more
Sep 14, 2011 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1700 Japan, Sano Ichiro, second in command to the shogun, is preparing for all-out war against his enemy, Lord Matsudaira. In the thick of this conflict, a skeleton is unearthed and discovered to be the body of the shogun's cousin, who vanished during the great fire that destroyed much of Edo 40 years earlier. Sano is sent to investigate, only to find that his own mother is implicated. If she is found guilty, Sano and his entire family may be executed. The unfolding of the mystery is exce ...more
Dec 31, 2008 Julian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all the crime fiction series' I read - more than is healthy, I'm sure (and don't care) - this is my favorite. Set in medieval Japan, it tells of the adventures of Sano Ichiro, samurai son of a ronin father and chief investigator for the shogun, and Ichiro's shrewd, irrepressible, "disobedient" wife, Reiko. Swords are swung, heads are lopped off, knives are hidden in kimono sleeves, blood flows, and crimes are busted. For anyone interested, the first book in the series is Shinju, a word that r ...more
Mr. Baad
Though The Fire Kimono isn't exactly great writing, it is an interesting story, and I had a hard time putting it down once I got 100 pages in. Set in Japan around 1700, the plot focuses on a samurai, Sano, who serves as the chamberlain to the shogun. Sano's mother is accused of a murdering the shogun's cousin 40 years in the past, and Sano must prove her innocent or face the execution of his entire family as a consequence for her actions. Weaved into this plot is plenty of political intrigue as ...more
Wonderful time travel, interesting secretion of Japanese court and customs. I love Bushido…..
Richard Etzel
Sep 24, 2012 Richard Etzel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Praise for Laura Joh Rowland includes a note from the Denver Post:"Sano may carry a sword and wear a kimono, but you'll immediately recognize him as an ancestor of Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade" because it's the story of 15th and 16th century detective who is charged with the task of solving a 43 year old murder of a 15 year old. Intrigue, revenge, passion and a host of other emotions all wrapped up in one story. I rated this book as a 4 star because it has clear and imaginative writing that tak ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Alaina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally returned to this series and this book was pretty good. There were some major points that occurred that I missed from previous books, but Rowland, as usual, did a great job of covering those points without giving away too much and ruining the prospects of reading the other texts.

I will admit that I got pretty tired of the run around with Sano's mother's confession and her ultimate confession in the end was pretty much a deus ex machina...

All in all, I'd recommend this series. It's alwa
Jan 17, 2015 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
overwritten. way to many pages for not much.
Jan 03, 2015 Sheila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy this very much.
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Granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, Laura Joh Rowland grew up in Michigan and where she graduated with a B.S. in microbiology and a Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband. She has worked as a chemist, microbiologist, sanitary inspector and quality engineer.
More about Laura Joh Rowland...

Other Books in the Series

Sano Ichiro (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Shinju (Sano Ichiro, #1)
  • Bundori (Sano Ichiro, #2)
  • The Way of the Traitor  (Sano Ichiro, #3)
  • The Concubine's Tattoo (Sano Ichiro, #4)
  • The Samurai's Wife (Sano Ichiro, #5)
  • Black Lotus (Sano Ichiro, #6)
  • The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria (Sano Ichiro, #7)
  • The Dragon King's Palace (Sano Ichiro, #8)
  • The Perfumed Sleeve (Sano Ichiro, #9)
  • The Assassin's Touch (Sano Ichiro, #10)

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