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(Sano Ichiro #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,244 ratings  ·  299 reviews
When beautiful, wealthy Yukiko and low-born artist Noriyoshi are found drowned together in a shinju, or ritual double suicide, everyone believes the culprit was forbidden love. Everyone but newly appointed yoriki Sano Ichiro.

Despite the official verdict and warnings from his superiors, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People suspects the
Paperback, 437 pages
Published May 29th 2001 by HarperTorch (first published November 17th 1994)
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Anita The first book SHINJU begins in January 1689, i.e. Edo Genroku Period, Year 1, Month 12.

Genroku bunka or Genroku culture is the culture of the early…more
The first book SHINJU begins in January 1689, i.e. Edo Genroku Period, Year 1, Month 12.

Genroku bunka or Genroku culture is the culture of the early Edo period (1603–1867), especially the Genroku era (1688–1704). Known as a period of luxurious display, the arts were increasingly patronized by a growing and powerful merchant class.(less)

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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,244 ratings  ·  299 reviews

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Yoriki Sano Ichiro left a cushy job as a tutor and history scholar to become Edo's newest senior police commander. This was a time when the higher echelon your family belonged to, the greater your pull in society.

Years ago, Sano's great-grandfather had saved a fellow soldier who just happened to be a very important person. His father was the man that approached the family to make compensation. It was Sano's duty to obey his sire and accept the family's patronage in the form of this highly-prize
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, library, reviewed
Delightful historical mystery set in feudal Japan of the 17th century. Yoriki [Police Commander] Sano Ichiro is confronted with a supposed shinju [double suicide of two lovers]. Sano, with the help of Dr. Ito, prison doctor, ascertains that there were two murders. Dr. Ito performs an autopsy, which is forbidden by Japanese law at that time, as "Western." Against orders of Sano's superior, Sano sets about finding the culprit. During his investigation, a conspiracy to assassinate the shogun is unc ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting start to a mystery series situated in 17th century Japan. The central character is a man who is a samurai, and works as a policeman. He's not comfortable in his role, and felt more comfortable in his previous life as a scholar.

Sano Ichiro, becomes involved in an investigation into what looks like a double suicide. And though the mystery is interesting, with a noble family involved and various colourful commoners, too, and political machinations, what really kept me going was watchin
Dawn (& Ron)
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Asian historical fiction mystery fans
This is an old review from a few years ago, with some new comments added including Ron's opinion and our combined thoughts on this first entry in the Sano Ichiro series.

The author transports the reader not only to 17th century Japan but into the mindset of the Samurai ethics and culture. Rowland wraps all this in an intricate mystery of a supposed ritual double suicide, of a noble woman and a commoner, which helps us to further understand the culture. It is the constraints of Japanese society an
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, historical
I have had a number of friends recommend reading this book, so after a while, I decided to pick it up and give it a chance. I enjoy historical settings and wanted to be immersed into a Rowland's Edo Japan.

Immediately, the reader is introduced to Sano Ichiro, who is not your typical samurai and allows his personal sense of duty and curiosity override his obligation and duty more than an ordinary samurai should. However, his departure from tradition is pointed out as a break from the norm and even
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hf, japan, mystery
I really enjoyed this first in a series set in 17th Century Japan. It is steeped in historical details of the culture and mores of Shogunate Japan and the Samurai class. Sano Ichiro, a new Yoriki (police administrator), finds himself at odds with his Samurai Way of the Warrior code and his desire to bring a killer to justice. A man and woman are found bound together, who appear to have been drowned in an act of Shinju- a ritual dual suicide. The man is a commoner & the woman a daughter from ...more
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish this book. The main character, Sano, tired me with his waffling. I understand that Sano was struggling against tradition and expectation, but after reading about three or four of his internal debates over this, it gets old. And the number of times he folds to pressure - or nearly does - to give up his investigation, only to turn right back around and decide that no, he can't give up; that got tiresome too.
Feb 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sudahdilepas
Pertama liat cover buku ini di TM bookstore. Woa keren tentang Samurai.
Tapi ternyata setelah baca, buku ini tidak hanya menyajikan tentang Samurai saja. Tapi tentang detektif mencari kebenaran.

Buku ini menceritakan bagaimana seorang putra Ronin (Samurai tak bertuan) bernama Sano Ichiro harus mengemban tugas sebagai seorang Yoriki (Komandan Polisi), sebagai seorang Samurai dia harus selalu mengabdi setia dan patuh terhadap tuannya seperti Samurai lainnya dan tidak jatuh sebagai Ronin seperti ayah
Rie Rose
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It is a fascinating look at feudal Japan. The first in a long series I am eager to see more of. Sano Ichiro is the only son of a samurai who runs a martial arts academy. Through patronage and pulled favors, he has been appointed a yoriki -- senior police commander -- in the city of Edo.

He is asked to "investigate" an apparent double suicide or Shinju by his superior, but is really expected to just sweep the whole thing under the rug and make it disappear. A former scholar and te
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
So I'm something of a feudal Japanese culture aficionado. I'm not great with dates or names, but I very much understand (even if I don't necessarily approve of) the samurai ethos. When I first read about this series, I thought, "Feudal Japanese noir? That can happen?" And oh yes, it can! Sano Ichiro is the closest thing the era could possibly have to a hard-boiled investigator. Nearly all of his actions and impulses rang true to me. I did have qualms with his devotion to the non-samurai ideals o ...more
Wow.... What a marvelous book! Talk about culture shock! Talk about world-building! Talk about complex, multi-faceted plotting!

I'm not even sure I can describe this book! It's set in Japan during the Edo period, so everything is very rigid. Filial duty, honor, and service to one's master are all top priorities. The whole society is based on these things, so when personal ambitions, desires, and truth to oneself crop up, there are some major complications that cause shuddering ramifications to al
Mar 08, 2012 added it
Shelves: detective
As much as I love the history and the mystery of historical detective fiction, I take mine with two spoonfuls of mystery and one spoon of history. Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro series reverses that order and gives me a different kind of a thriller.

Set in feudal japan, another area I enjoy immensely - thanks to Stan Sakai and Kurosawa, Shinju is our introduction to Sano Ichiro, a Yoriki (Samurai Cop), who holds the code of honor above anything else. Tasked to "investigate" a twin suicide (the
Kay Michel
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was very excited to begin reading this series. I love historical fiction. I became immersed in the story and I couldn't wait to get to the ending (in a good way!)
It was surprisingly accurate. The character seems conflicted, which I liked despite some of the mixed reviews.

I would have given this book five stars, but some of the details seemed to drag on at times which was the only downside that I encountered.
Serge Pierro
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Being interested in feudal japan and samurai, I find this series of books to be well researched and Rowland is able to portray the setting convincingly. The series starts off a bit rough, but she really hits her stride later in the series, as both the story and her talent blossom. Fans of the CCG Legend of the Five Rings will find this series to be very interesting!
I was quite impressed with this. I got a sense of the time and place without the book being overly preachy or lecturing me. I found the main character believable with sensible motivations and the plot moved along well. If only there had been an author's note at the end.
Kate Howe
I think this book being such an unexpected delight makes me give it five stars. It had some of the best pacing I’ve read in a mystery. It balanced character development, action, and dialogue with suspects incredibly well. I enjoyed that Sano (the sleuth) traveled around a fair amount throughout his investigation. Laura Joh Rowland was so skilled at setting the scene and I was able to learn a fair amount about 17th century Japan. This was a nice departure from my typical British mystery. *Warning ...more
No, za pokus to stálo a číst se to taky dalo. Další díly už ale číst nebudu.
Je tu vidět snaha o vykreslení doby a prostředí středověkého Japonska, místy se to docela daří. Ale to je tak všechno, příběh za moc nestojí, hlavní hrdina je jako vystřižený z papíru a další postavy vás taky moc za srdce nevezmou.
Takový Robert van Gulik a jeho soudce Ti jsou o tři patra výš.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Margaret Higgins
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
1st book of japanese saga not sure will read all 15
The story is solid but bogged down in too many facts about the times and place and history of both, and too much rumination by Sano. At some point, I might try the next in the series.
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HIstorická detektivka z období éry 徳川 (tokugawa). Jde o první knihu ze série příběhů, kde vystupuje Sano Ičiró, jehož policejní kariéru mapují další knihy z této série.

Sano je ve svém úřadě jen několik dnů a hned je nucen se úředně vypořádat se šinjú (smíšená sebevražda). Snad aby ukázal, že nové koště dobře mete, dojde se podívat na mrtvolu. Překvapivě zjistí, že utopenec nemá v plicích ani deci vody, což moc nejde do kupy s motivem sebevraždy z lásky. Vypraví se i do rodiny mrtvé dívky a tam m
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Distrik Edo, Jepang abad ke-17

Ketika Yukiko, si gadis cantik nan kaya, ditemukan tenggelam di Sungai Sumida bersama Noriyoshi, si seniman miskin, semua orang yakin bahwa itu adalah sinju atau ritual bunuh diri berdua karena cinta terlarang. Tak ada yang ragu, kecuali Sano Ichiro, seorang penyelidik baru.

Tak acuh dengan perintah resmi dan peringatan dari para atasannya, Sano mencurigai kematian keduanya bukan sekadar tragedi-mereka pasti telah dibunuh. Mempertaruhkan nama baik keluarga dan nyaw
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly good mystery novel set in 17th-century Japan, and a welcome respite from a stream of subpar Russia books. However, one can't help but feel that a modern crime story (plus its tropes) was pasted into the exotic setting at times...
Cheshire Public Library
I’m a voracious reader, but my reading skills lately have been the pits. This cold winter weather getting anyone else down in the dumps?

I finally finished a book last night, from the stack of books that have yet to be finished. This particular one, Shinju, by Laura Joh Rowland, was supposed to be done for mystery book club two weeks ago. Ooops.

195979Shinju follows beginning investigating police office (of sorts, his official title is yoriki) Sano Ichiro in 17th century feudal Japan. Sano, a samu
Heather Burke
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit slow to start but ended up being a book I couldn't put down.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Brent Thomas
Quick Review: A quite fun and rewarding read. Rowland does a great job of dropping in enough details about Japan without distracting from the story. Although I will admit feeling the fourth act dragged a little, I never had any problems picking the book up and emerging myself in its world. Also, I think I might just have to rush and pick up book number two in the series.

Spoilers Lurk Below

Analysis: A few years back I tried to write my own little story about set in Japan. (You can read the remna
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ah, the constantly torn between right and duty Sano with luck throwing him between good and bad. Rowling paints such vivid images and makes you experience twists and turns of fate so deeply, that you can’t believe you weren’t there.
On to book 2!
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
In Japan of the 1670's, Sano Ichiro's elderly, ailing father has pulled some strings to get him appointed yoriki (which seems to be much like a police sergeant). However, from the very start, Sano finds himself in conflict at his job - his superior orders him to quietly bury the embarrassing discovery of the bodies of a wealthy young noblewoman and a commoner known for his erotic artworks - apparently a double suicide based on their doomed love. But Sano has a feeling that this was not suicide b ...more
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
SHINJU. (1994). Laura Joh Rowland. ***1/2.
This was the first novel in a series that featured the samurai hero, Sano. As I later learned, the author has so far written eighteen novels in total continuing Sano’s adventures. The story is set in Edo, no Tokyo, in 1680, during the Genroku Period. It all starts when a couple, tied together, is found in the river. It is presumed that they died by a mutual suicide pact, called shinju. It was further believed since the young woman was of noble caste, whi
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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.

Other books in the series

Sano Ichiro (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • 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)
  • Red Chrysanthemum (Sano Ichiro, #11)
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