Review by Wayne Sears

Suagwara Akitada, an eleventh century nobleman has been serving in the Ministry of Justice of the Emperor’s court. He, his young wife and servants are sent to a new posting, the provisional governorship of the northern outpost Echigo.

With winter closing in, the area is about to be isolated from the rest of Japan. Akitada has meet with resistance from the local officials and is distrusted by the people. Echigo officials have reported to the Emperor a successful grain harvest, but Akitada finds poverty, hunger and rebellion. Where has the grain gone and what dose a thirty one year old murder have to do with the conditions of the area?

It seems Akitada has been sent here to fail. An innkeeper is brutally murdered and three travelers have been accused. With incompetent officials pushing for a speedy trial and conviction it looks like innocent persons are going to be punished.

There are many twists and turns as Akitada tries to unravel the lies, deceit, jealousy and murder.

The great thing about this novel is that it starts out with a mystery and continues to lead a very crooked path into other crimes and plots. I.J Parker has a clear understanding of the period and the characters. I really enjoyed how the storyline developed. If you enjoy novels that get more complex as the mysteries unfold you’ll love this one. I know I did.

I did have some trouble as I started the book in keeping track of the many characters.

I.J. Parker has produced a real page-turner; you won’t want to put it down. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next.


Wayne Sears developed a love for reading in grade five and continues to have a ferocious appetite for literature. His favorite books are Mysteries, Suspense and Crime Novels.

Wayne was born in the prairie region of southern Alberta and in his early life enjoyed the outdoors with hunting and fishing. He still enjoys getting out in the countryside with his wife of twenty years, enjoying the scenery, but now shooting with a camera. Besides reading Wayne has taken up woodcarving and is enjoying take photographs of scenery and wildlife for subjects but his first love still is reading a good novel.

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