Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Way of the Traitor (Sano Ichiro, #3)” as Want to Read:
The Way of the Traitor  (Sano Ichiro, #3)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Way of the Traitor

(Sano Ichiro #3)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,443 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A volatile, corrupt city threatened by toreign invasion and ru by an iron-fisted government, Nagasaki is the last place Sano Ichiro wants to be, Unfortunately, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People has been banished there by a wicked adversary in the shogun's court.

Surrounded by spies, Sano must tread carefully. When the body of a Dutch
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 4th 2001 by HarperTorch (first published June 17th 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Way of the Traitor, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Way of the Traitor

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,443 ratings  ·  56 reviews

Sort order
2.5 stars.

What I liked:

1) The setting--Nagasaki in the 1600s, at a time when Japan was beginning to have trade relations with the Western world. This allowed for the exploration of some interesting tension between the Japanese and the Dutch traders, and Laura Joh Rowland did a great job of highlighting and explaining these tensions.

2) Hirata's refusal to allow Sano to sideline him for his protection.

What I didn't like:

1) Sano's stupidity and naiveté! This man just bumbled from one self-made cris
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Less "feudal Japan smut" then in previous 2 books. I liked this book Hirata and Sano become bound together by honor, loyalty, respect and friendship. (no spoiler here--this novel forwards the larger arc of the series--we all knew Hirata was struggling for Sano's acknowledgement for good reason.) So now we know Hirata is with us for a while at least, and probably for the long run.

We also got to enjoy Chamberlain Yanagisawa being thwarted once again...we knew it was going to happen, but h
Marilyn F
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well and intricately researched and told, maybe a bit much of trying to make the reader think oh my, how will he get out of this now? Also some good internal dialogue, all in all believably realistic if a bit of a tall tale now and then.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it
It's fun to read historical fiction set in places you only know a little about, and the author does seem to have done her research. However, the mystery is I suppose competent enough, but more workmanlike than anything else, and the characters are acceptable but uninspired.

The setting here is engrossing. Tokugawa Japan balanced on a knife's edge, trying to protect itself from European guns and ideas by being rabidly isolationist. This balancing act is the core of the book, as Sano tries to solve
Mary JL
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any interested in Japan; historical fiction or historical mysteries
Recommended to Mary JL by: cannot recall
Shelves: mystery-horror
This is a mystery sent in Japan in 1690. There are several in the series--this is the second one I have read.

The auhtor writes a quick easy to read prose sytle but her historical research is well done also. Will review after I finish--but looks like a very good historical mystery to me. I am enjoying it.


Okay, finished Way of the Traitor. A perfectly satisfacotry historical mystery. Good on history and atmosphere; average on character
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
what do you know...usually I love these, but this one was a bit hamhanded.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Again, my love for Japan and history help me finish a Sano book, despite the *excessively* annoying villains. I have little patience for politicking in life and less in what is supposed to be entertaining. We get it—Yanagisawa is all evil and Sano is all good. A little culture-blind to his own culture and a lot stubborn, but good.

I agree with other reviewers who question why the author includes sporadic Japanese phrases, only to immediately translate them, immediately knocking the reader out of
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sano has not changed much since the last two books - driven by Bushido, making questionable choices, which with a mix of luck and stubbornness throw him in every other direction. However pace of this story is different - Sano is very slowly digging himself a grave, only to be kicked hard into it at the last moment. I’m not sure if I liked it as much as the previous books, maybe that slow pace goes on for too long at first and the conclusion hits too hard then. But a promise of new Sano in next s ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book three of the series. Sano, Ichiro is sent to Nagasaki by the Shogun and a manipulative member of the court. The effort was to keep Sano out of the purview of the Shogun but crime has a way of attracting Sano's talents and sense of justice. In this book, Sano's assistant Hirata emerges as an excellent sidekick.
Michael Pritchett
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not as strong as previous entries in the series.
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book takes isolationism and government corruption to a greater level.

Why are some people naturally interspective and loyal?

Ellen Winters
Feb 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Boring. Disappointing.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Feb 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Could not finish. 50 pages in and did not grab me despite my love of all things Japanese.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, historical
As the third book featuring Sano Ichiro, I was anxious to read it once I picked it up. The politics in Bundori whetted my appetite, and I was ready for more.

The story takes place a year-and-a-half after Bundori. Sano has not yet married, still mourning the loss of his love. He has also found that there is little he can do to change the corrupt administration of the government and is despondent about the corruption. Strangely enough, Hirata, Sano's chief retainer, is despondent over his service t
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed Bundori, the second book in the series, but found it to lack some of the tension that had made Shinju, the first outing for samurai detective Sano Ichiro, such a page-turning read.

Here Rowland is at her best, creating a real sense of peril - not only for Sano but potentially for all of Japan as his investigation into the murder of a Dutch merchant may not only ruin his career and destroy his honor, but it could also result in war.

As with previous entries in the series, Rowland does a f
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the third book in Rowland's historical mystery series featuring Sano Ichiro, a former police chief in late 17th century Japan who is now working as a detective for the Tokugawa regime. The Way of the Traitor centered around the murder of a Dutch trader in the harbor city of Nagasaki. There, the European traders are confined to the island of Deshima and allowed extremely limited contact with the Japanese. Sano's investigation leads him into great danger due to the complex politics and int ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Don't bother.

Book #3 of the series was a greater disappointment than the second. The plot revolves around the one opening from Tokugawa Japan to the rest of the world, Nagasaki. Again, the hero is threatened in body and honor by powerful men who seek to destroy him. Bushido frustrates him but saves him in the final moments of the novel. It is precisely the same formula from the second novel.

I'll discuss the good before the deplorable. An interesting discussion of the fall of the Ming dynasty occ
The funniest moment of this book: when Sano muses that he "should never have trusted a barbarian; their worlds were too far apart, their values too different." This coming from the guy who sees right through the people of his time: how backward, corrupt and intolerant they all are! He is the lone wolf who's going to singlehandedly save his country. He doesn't let his subordinate to do his samurai duty because it would mean exposing him to danger, he's interested in Christianity, he thinks Japan ...more
John Lee
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
"What shall I choose to read on our 13 hour flight to Tokyo?," I thought as I looked through the available books downloaded onto the Kindle. This seemed the obvious choice.
I have enjoyed the previous two books in the series (although marked number 2 down for one passage that in my opinion, had no place in the book)and so it was that I chose to follow the steps of the Shoguns Sosakan-sama, the most Honourable Investigator of Events, Situations and People; Sano Ichiro.
Now I might have missed some
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
In the absence of the shogun, chamberlain Yanagisawa sends Sano to Nagasaki to get him out of his way. He arrives there to find the city in turmoil: One of the Dutch merchants only allowed to set foot onto a tiny island in the bay has gone missing and is soon found brutally murdered. Sensing an opportunity to turn his forced short term exile into something a lot more exciting than he initially anticipated, Sano insists on leading the investigation himself - with potentially dire consequences.

Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-books, mystery
This third book in the series definitely got mixed reviews from Goodreads readers. I have read Rowland's books out of order, just because I bought them when I saw them. That having been said, The Way of the Traitor takes place in 1690 in Nagasaki, Sano Ichiro having been sent there by the evil lover of the Shogun. The Tokugawa regime is more corrupt than moral Sano can stand and so his life is constantly in danger. As the Shogun's chief detective, he arrives to find a prominent Dutch sailor has ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've read the first two books of the series. The Way of the Traitor is the best read so far. The story moved down to Nagasaki from Edo (old Tokyo). The historical background Rowland gives Nagasaki is wonderful. The plot is filled with action and enemies for Sano. The ending insures the return of the detective to the capital. This was a good, light read that I enjoyed reading on the trains on my way to school.
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A mystery with lots of action and adventure. Set in Japan in 1690, this is a story of the fight of one man against bribery and corruption in Nagasaki, the only port in Japan at that time that was open to trade with foreign "barbarians". The story follows one man and his loyal retainer in their fight to discover who killed the Dutchman who was head of the Dutch East Indies company.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A much faster read than the others of the series that I've enjoyed to date. This one was a lot less murder mystery and a lot more "Uh oh, how's Sano gonna get himself out of this one?" I didn't actually get the unraveling of the mystery, tbh, but was happy enough to go along for the ride. Looking forward to picking up the next book from the library soon.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it liked it
This book kept my attention and proved to be hard to put down. It is a historical novel,
a murder mystery set in Japan, mainly in Nagasaki, in the late 17th century. I found the plot somewhat unconvincing,( e.g. the hero's and his friends' many improbable escapes), and the mystery I felt was in the Western sense, and did not come from the exotic setting.
Kandas Myer
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I enjoy the light easy, historically based fiction of Laura Rowland. This is my favorite (so far) of her simple mysteries which emerse the reader in fuedal Japan. I highly recommend reading (the Sano Ichiro mysteries) in order of
print to receive the full enjoyment of the main character Sano's drama and intrigue ivolving the other characters who also appear again and again.
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!
Thomas Dale
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Rowland's books. A murder mystery set in Edo period Japan provides both entertainment and an education in the history, cultural and color of Japan. This book was another example of being taught more about the period of Japanese history where foriengers were not understood, or welcome, in Japan. A great setting for a story like the one that she tells. I enjoyed it!!
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Rashomon Gate (Sugawara Akitada, #2)
  • Anne Perry's Silent Nights: A Christmas Beginning / A Christmas Grace (Christmas Stories, #5-6)
  • Kill the Shogun (Matsuyama Kaze, #3)
  • The Flower Master (Rei Shimura #3)
  • The Master Key
  • The Serpent's Children (Golden Mountain Chronicles, #1)
  • A Fugitive Truth (An Emma Fielding Mystery #4)
  • Murder in Canton (Judge Dee (Chronological order) #17)
  • Extracurricular Activities (A Murder 101 Mystery, #2)
  • Bamboo and Blood (Inspector O, #3)
  • One Virgin Too Many (Marcus Didius Falco, #11)
  • The Monk Who Vanished (Sister Fidelma, #7)
  • The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo
  • The Master of Rain: A Suspense Thriller
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)
  • Shinju (Sano Ichiro, #1)
  • Bundori (Sano Ichiro, #2)
  • 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)
“Buddhist faith prohibits violence and killing. I have no need of weapons.” 0 likes
More quotes…