Laura Joh Rowland


Sano Ichiro: Shinju (1994)



Shinju (1994)

ShinjuIt’s 1698 and Sano Ichiro is a yoriki, or magistrate who is assigned the case of a shinju–or ritual suicide to two star-crossed lovers.

Although he is pushed to close the case, something about the deaths bothers Sano, and he is determined to discover the truth of the deaths–no matter the cost.

A couple things about Shinju. This is the first book in a series, and I think it shows. By the end of the book, it seemed like just one more thing happened entirely too many times, to the point Sano was beginning to come across as a bit of a superhero. He made plenty of mistakes mind you, and didn’t seem to be a Mary Sue, but he just kept managing to be in the right place at the right time, and getting away just in the nick of time.

It just got to be a bit much.

The second thing is that although the setting was in Japan, the book still felt very Western to me. It’s not even anything I can put my finger on, after all, as far as I know the details of time and place are well done and correct. There was just something about the way Sano acted and thought that felt as though it were a westerner explaining what was happening.

However, aside from those flaws I kept reading, so it wasn’t all bad. And I have hopes that the next books in the series will have been tightened up a bit more.
Rating: 6/10



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