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Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland

Der Kirschblütenmord Sano Ichirōs Erster Fall ; Historischer Kriminalroman - Laura Joh Rowland, Wolfgang Neuhaus

Source: Library

Language: German (Original Language: English)

Original Title: Shinju

 

I love everything Japanese (I even lived there for a year), so I thought this would be epic win for me.

It has Edo-period Japan (set in first year of Genroku or 1688) and a samurai police detective, so what could go wrong?

 

Here is what went wrong: This book is too damn long. 150 pages less and this would have been a 4 or even 5 star rating.

Sano (the detective) spends way too many pages travelling back and forth to places and doubting himself and his actions. I understand his conflicts about what he wants to do and what the samurai codex would want him to do (obey your superiors, honor your family, don't step out of line etc.) but how am I supposed to connect to him when he's not sure at all if he is doing the right thing or not?

 

Rowland did a lot of research and I enjoyed the short descriptions of houses, clothes, people and different castes. The atmosphere was really Japanese and didn't just felt like a book that happens to be set in Japan.

She also did a great job setting up the next book in the series. I actually really want to read the next one (Bundori), though I definitely will read that one in English. I sometimes felt the writing was a little bit wooden, but suspect that's the fault of the German translation and not the original writing.