THE FIRE KIMONO
It's a toss-up as to what's more
gratifying about this book: the
nearly lyrical language, the exotic
setting or the neatly twisting plot.
The colorfully layered prose nearly
disguises the barbarity of the crime
in this fascinating mystery.
The ongoing hostility between Lord Matsudaira and Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective in the shogun's court, has resulted in an attack on Sano's wife, Lady Reiko. But Matsudaira denies involvement. Just as these problems escalate, a long-buried body is discovered near a Shinto shrine, and the shogun orders Sano to investigate. Items buried with the body seem to indicate it's the shogun's cousin, who disappeared nearly 40 years earlier, during a fire set off by an allegedly cursed kimono. As evidence points to Sano's own mother as the culprit, Sano and Reiko, threatened with their family's lives, have three days to find the truth. (ST. MARTIN'S MINOTAUR, Nov., 304 pp., $24.95)