Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mysteries Set in Japan

The intricate etiquette-driven society of Japan is an
effective setting for mystery stories, whether in the feudal past or the business-world present. 

I.J. Parker's Sugawara Akitada series is set in the 11th century:

"From the author of The Dragon Scroll comes an ingenious new novel of murder and malfeasance in ancient Japan, featuring the detective Sugawara Akitada. The son of reduced nobility forced to toil in the Ministry of Justice, Akitada is relieved when an old friend, Professor Hirata, asks him to investigate a friend's blackmail. Taking a post at the Imperial University, he is soon sidetracked from his primary case by the murder of a young girl and the mysterious disappearance of an old man - a disappearance that the Emperor himself declares a miracle. Rashomon Gate is a mystery of magnificent complexity and historical detail that will leave readers yearning for more." - from the book jacket, Rashomon Gate

The Sugawara Akitada series:

1. Rashomon Gate (2002)
2. The Hell Screen (2003)
3. The Dragon Scroll (2005)
4. Black Arrow (2006)
5. Island of Exiles (2007)
6. The Convict's Sword (2009)
7. The Fires of the Gods (2010)
8. The Masuda Affair (2011)
9. Death on an Autumn River (2011) (Kindle exclusive)

Dale Furutani's Matsuyama Kaze series is set in the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), and is rich with the samurai lore that makes Japanese history so distinctive.

Matsuyama Kaze is a ronin, a masterless samurai, seeking to honor the last order given to him by his old master. In the course of his travels, Kaze encounters mysteries that test him to the limit.

Richly atmospheric, filled with historically accurate detail, this series evokes the world of long-ago Japan and the often lonely life of an honor-bound warrior.

Dale Furutani's Matsuyama Kaze "Samurai" series:

1. Death at the Crossroads (1998)
2. The Jade Palace Vendetta (1999)
3. Kill the Shogun (2000)

Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro series is also set in feudal Japan during the 1600s.

Sano Ichiro is the shogun's sosakan-sama - "most honorable investigator of events, situations, and people" - and as such must interact with all levels of feudal Japanese culture.

1. Shinju (1994)
2. Bundori (1996)
3. The Way of the Traitor (1997)
4. The Concubine's Tattoo (1998)
5. The Samurai's Wife (2000)
6. Black Lotus (2001)
7. The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria (2002)
8. The Dragon King's Palace (2003)
9. The Perfumed Sleeve (2004)
10. The Assassin's Touch (2005)
11. The Red Chrysanthemum (2006)
12. The Snow Empress (2007)
13. The Fire Kimono (2008)
14. The Cloud Pavilion (2009)
15. The Ronin's Mistress (2011)
16. The Incense Game (2012)

Moving up to present-day Tokyo:

Rei Shimura is a young Japanese-American English teacher living in Tokyo who stumbles upon mysteries while dealing in antiques! Rich with detail from the author's own experiences while living in Japan.

Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura series:

1. The Salaryman's Wife (1997)
2. Zen Attitude (1998)
3. The Flower Master (1999)
4. The Floating Girl (2000)
5. The Bride's Kimono (2001)
6. The Samurai's Daughter (2003)
7. The Pearl Diver (2004)
8. The Typhoon Lover (2005)
9. Girl in a Box (2006)
10. Shimura Trouble (2008)

 John Rain is a half-Japanese half-American assassin who works the mean streets of Tokyo.

The John Rain suspense thriller series by Barry Eisler:

1. Rain Fall (2002)
2. Hard Rain (2003)
     aka Blood from Blood
3. Rain Storm (2004)
     aka Choke Point
4. Killing Rain (2005)
     aka One Last Kill
5. The Last Assassin (2006)
6. Requiem for an Assassin (2007)
7. The Detachment (2011)

Other mysteries set in Japan:

Michael Crichton - Rising Sun
Keigo Higashino - The Devotion of Suspect X
Stephen Hunter - The 47th Samurai
Natsuo Kirino - Grotesque, Out
Don Lee - Country of Origin
James Melville - The Body Wore Brocade
Miyuki Miyabe - All She Was Worth, Shadow Family, The Devil's Whisper, The Sleeping Dragon
Fuminori Nakamura - The Thief
Asa Nonami - The Hunter
Arimasa Osawa - Shinjuku Shark
David Peace - Tokyo Year Zero
Soji Shimada - The Tokyo Zodiac Murders
Akimitsu Takagi - The Informer, Honeymoon To Nowhere, The Tattoo Murder Case
Peter Tasker - Buddha Kiss
Shuichi Yoshida - Villain


I.J.Parker said...

Thank you for listing my books. The most recent Akitada novel is DEATH ON AN AUTUMN RIVER (2011), available on Kindle.


Scott, ABCLS Staff Member said...

Ms. Parker -

Thanks for the update! Our library now makes Kindle titles available to our customers; we will look into getting "Death on an Autumn River" in that format. And of course customers may wish to purchase it directly.

I can honestly say that I have encountered many customers who, once they have tried one of the Akitada books, return to read the rest of the series.