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Bundori (Sano Ichiro, #2)
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(Sano Ichiro #2)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,860 ratings  ·  92 reviews
"In the sequel to Shinju, Rowland's highly acclaimed first novel, samurai detective Sana Ichiro is at it again as he tracks a serial killer." The year: 1689. The place: Edo, Japan's feudal capital. An all-powerful shogun controls the state, surrounded by bitter machinations and political intrigues. A young samurai and ex-policeman, Sano tries valiantly to follow "Bushido-" ...more
Paperback, 417 pages
Published April 24th 1997 by HarperTorch (first published 1996)
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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,860 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Feb 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
Having started the stories of Sano Ichiro with Shinju, I decided to progress onto the second book instead of jumping around in the series. I found the book to be enjoyable in both its changes and singularities.

The story takes place just a couple of months after Shinju. Sano is learning his way around the ways of Edo Castle and his new lord, Tokugawa. When the Bundori killings begin (bundori is the ritual preparation of the head of one's enemy in the time of war. A war trophy), Sano is assigned t
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brutal, yet entirely consistent with the milieu. I thought some of the sex scenes were entirely gratuitous, but the rest of the book was solidly noir. The story of O-tama was particularly lovely in the midst of all that squalor. It's kinda weird that I feel that Sano is on a downward spiral with each book, but I guess that's why it's hard-boiled. Good stuff, with the occasional deft turn of phrase like this one, so very representative of a life lived dutifully:

"One doesn't expect to find love, a
Oct 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, period-piece
Bundori is full of information about life in Japan during the samurai era, but--as in the films of the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa--the information flows naturally from the story and never once intrudes on it. Sano Ichiro is an intrepid character, and this 2nd book in the series continues a satisfying character development arc while introducing both Hirata, who becomes Sano's retainer, and also the shogun's chamberlain, a more dangerous villain than the one in Shinju. Like some others ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: east-asian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
This one approaches 3 stars, but didn't quite make it for me. It's a slow starter, but picks up pretty well by halfway through. The formality of the prose may fit the culture, but I think it's taken too far and leaves one not knowing the characters well (and not caring to know) as well as distancing the reader from the action. It's not a bad book at all, but doubt I care enough about this series to read further.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh man, this book was so hard to get through. Mostly because of its length and the way it was written, than out of dislike for the story.

I admit I have a love/hate situation going on with this series. On the one hand, I love all the historical details and how they're woven into the story, the settings are realistic, Sano is (albeit slightly annoying to me in his personality) portrayed in a way believable to what and who he is supposed to be, and the crime/mystery aspect of the series is very we
There are two reasons I love this series. The first is the setting: 17th century feudal Japan. Laura Joh Rowland is such an atmospheric writer, and I can feel the crowded streets and imagine the sights and smells of Edo's overpopulation. Another thing she writes well is a sense of confinement, of "hands tied" by the constriction of bushido and the corrupt oppression of absolute power maintained by the feudal lords. Although these concepts are extremely frustrating to my western mind, it's intere ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favourites, read-2016
Newly appointed as the shogun's special investigator, samurai Sano Ichiro hasn't yet had the opportunity to prove himself in his new position. Now, a gruesome murder in which the victim's head was turned into a war trophy like something straight out of a history book prompts the shogun to call upon his new investigator. The investigation, though, proves difficult and soon becomes a race against time as more bodies drop and Sano is given an ultimatum: Solve the case within a week or face exile.

Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Samurai Detective Sano Ichiro has 5 days to catch the killer who is decapitating his victims and impaling the head on a spike for all to see - a Bundori, or war trophy. Edo in the year 1679 is rich with suptuous castles, pleasure districts, and quiet, serence temples, but chaos reigns as the killer passes through the city like a ghost. Sano relies on his training in Bushido, the Way of the Warrior, to bring down the evil culprit.
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Here is a mystery set in medieval Japan with a detective who is a samurai, Sano Ichiro. Its title, Bundori, means "war trophy." The historical background, the characters of the shogun's court, the romance with a Ninja, the intriguing sleuthing all make for an exciting read. This is the 2nd of the Sano Ichiro mysteries by Rowland.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This series is a far cry from my favourite cozy Agatha Christie-like mysteries. Actually it has all the elements I generally try to avoid: tons of dramatic irony when the unsuspecting protagonist willingly walks into every imaginable trap; inexperienced investigator who misses obvious clues but refuses help; last-minute rescues; quixotic lead lost in court and political intrigue, spirits and miracles in otherwise realistic plot (magical realism? incorporation of cultural beliefs? not very well d ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder-mystery
I am torn by this book. The constant deus-ex-bushido-dad and deus-ex-female-character that enlightens everything about the plot the last minute, along with the authors very obvious displeasure and distaste for gay people, and with one rape scene where she oh no hates him but in secret she likes him so it's okay if she doesn't give her consent she secretly wants him and they're both turned on. Yeah. No.

The plot is intriguing at first but then it becomes a carbon copy of the first book. Almost ev
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Keep us safe from evil!"

Since the last book did not end on a cliffhanger, I was able to take my time before starting the sequel; it did not disappoint.

Well, mostly.

The mystery itself was well-written, the characters were diverse and their personalities were portrayed well. However, I was a bit unhappy with one thing: the way Sano obtained information. Most of it was, of course, completely normal, but sometimes he'd use veiled threats to get his message across, something I did not believe he was
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-books
There's the return of familiar characters and the addition of some new and intriguing ones as well. Sano Ichiro, Dr. Ito, Hirata, and the future wife of Sano Reiko that are here. Aoi was a great addition, as was further drama with Yanagisawa.

I read this series in sort of a random order and insert each book into the overall timeline. I like some books better than others but for the most part really enjoy the series characters and setting, as well as the historical references to Japanese culture
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Having really loved the first book in this series, I had high hopes for Bundori.

I had hoped Sano’s narrative would have progressed a bit. But disgrace and dishonor are still what is at stake for him. I hope to see more character development for Sano in the next book. He’s such an intriguing character, but his struggles were much the same in this book as the last.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In first book Sano was thrown from side to side by fate and after a long ordeal came out miraculously on top. In this book you find him more determined, but fate doesn’t let go and sets boundaries within which he can move - loyalty, power, hatred and love. With every page you feel the boundaries contracting to close him more and more and that’s the beauty of this book - you feel.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More historicalJapan

Some parts exciting and page turning, but still a bit too theatrical. The history and application of the Samurai code of ethics is very interesting and enlightening. Probably will read the third in the series.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I like how the series builds.
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
So far I am enjoying the series. I hope the rest of the books will continue to keep me entertained.
Jack Heath
Synopsis: Samurai detective Ichiro tracks a serial killer in 1689 in Edo, Japan's feudal capital. Throw in court intrigue!
Apr 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-mystery
Bundori is the next book after Shinju (set three months later), where Sano has risen to the post of sosakan-sama, the shogun's special investigator. He is still the outsider, as he does not have the background or family connections that his peers do. He is still learning of his duties when he is assigned a puzzling case: someone has murdered one of the shogun's hereditory vassals, in an odd manner: the head was removed as though it were a war trophy, a bundori.

Sano hasn't quite the social barrie
I found Bundori to be a frustrating book, but not because of the writing, or the story, or the plot points. It was frustrating because Sano was frustrated by Bushido, the set of principles, traditions, and customs that samuari were expected to adhere to. Sano's investigation was hampered by Bushido, his love life was hampered by Bushido, his friendships, lifestyle, even his acceptance by other samuari and his place in the Shogun's employ are all hampered by Bushido. Poor Sano can't catch a break ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
When a serial killer gets loose in the city of Edo, all eyes (or at least the ones that matter) turn to Sano Ichiro, who has now given up his Yoriki job for being a Sosokan-Sama. Life can't get more difficult for Ichiro. When a serial killer is seemingly the last of your problems, you are probably scraping at the bottom of the barrel. A rudderless Shogun, a jealous chancellor, a ninja femme fatale and a prospective bride and her father who is a Judge are merely a few of the speed bumps in his li ...more
Written with more heart and passion than the next installments. The author's talent for vivid description is particularly evident in the part when Sano and Hirata are looking for the killer in the Fukagawa marshes. I also thought that the bond between the two was very well done.

Other than that, the plot is pretty simplistic, the characters not memorable apart maybe from... I was going to say Madam Shimizu, but no, she turned out to be mostly cardboard. The romance was good, and by this I mean,
John Lee
The,and my,second of the series.
First, the negatives. The reader will know from some of my other reviews, that I will mark down what I consider to be gratuitous examples of sex or violence. One example in the latter stages of the novel was so extraneous as to be almost silly.
My recent review of Shinju made play of the fact that the 'strange' names were no problem for me to understand the plot. Hand on heart, I cannot say the same here, as I soon lost who was on whose side in the historic encount
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This story picks up the life and times of Sano Ichiro where "Shinju" left off. He's still unpopular with his peers, but this time they are all in the castle of the shogun. His nemesis is the shogun's chamberlain and former and/or part-time lover. The crime is the ritual beheading and display of heads of a string of people. A mysterious woman, Aoi, whose name I can't begin to figure out how to pronounce, is a ninja who may or may not have soothsaying skills. I learned more about the rigidity and ...more
Linda Bridges
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-books
The second book in the is series deals with the Bundori killer. Bundori is a trophy taken after warfare and presented to the commander--in this case the severed head of the victim. A person is stalking various people in medieval Japan and it is up to investigator Sano Ichiro to find the killer quickly. However, he faces obstacles from the shogun's chamberlain that hinders his investigation. Could the chamberlain, himself, be the Bundor killer? As Sano follows the twists and turns of the case, h ...more
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
The first Sano Inchiro book, Shinju, really grabbed me with its striking and colorful setting and an intriguing case to be solved. Rowland's follow-up manages to be even more colorful than its predecessor thanks to the gruesome set of murders that Sano is tasked with investigating (Bundori being severed heads of enemies turned into trophies), and several graphic descriptions of sexual encounters that seemed peripheral to the story.

While the story didn't achieve that same 'race against time' paci
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
No disappointment after the first book in the series (Shinju). Introducing ninjas to the story is a good move. Sano is a likeable character without any special skills - very human, unlike his many Oriental counterparts. Actually, he does not use any ingenious deduction either. Consequences lead him to the solution which the reader sometimes has to sheepishly follow. That is, in my opinion, the weak link in the stories. Many times, the characters think like people today but the historical backgro ...more
Steve Sarrica
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Our second outing with investigator Sano Ichiro. The lush description of the historical setting is a big plus. We learn more about bushido and its inherent limitations for our honorable protagonist when he has to deal with those who are superior in rank, but who are without honor. The mystery is pretty good, but the resolution is somewhat predictable. Some of the concluding action stretched what should have been physically possible given the situation. Some characters are excellently drawn and t ...more
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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)
  • Shinju (Sano Ichiro, #1)
  • 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)