EnglishFrenchJapaneseKorean
Powered by Translate
Stay in the Loop: (newsletter signup form)

Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

General discussion (non-Usagi Yojimbo related) about all things Japan -- Feudal Japan, Samurai, Ninjas, Anime & Manga, Chambara films, Japanese Pop Culture, Otaku, martial arts, history, sushi, giant robots, Godzilla... anything Japan-related!

Moderators: Steve Hubbell, Mayhem, Moderators

Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Steve Hubbell » Wed Sep 16, 2015 21:42 +0000

Mysteries and historical fiction set in ancient or feudal Japan has never been real abundant in English, a few long running series being the exception rather than the norm.

Joining the case files of Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro mysteries and I. J. Parker's Sugawara Akitada mysteries are the Shinobi mysteries of Susan Spann.....


Image


Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery
by Susan Spann
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 16, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250027020
ISBN-13: 978-1250027023


May 1564: When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro has no desire to get involved. But the beautiful entertainer accused of the crime enlists the help of Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit Hiro is sworn to protect, leaving the master shinobi with just three days to find the killer in order to save the girl and the priest from execution.

The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto's floating world, where they learn that everyone from the elusive teahouse owner to the dead man's dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai's death a mystery. A rare murder weapon favored by ninja assassins, a female samurai warrior, and a hidden affair leave Hiro with too many suspects and far too little time. Worse, the ninja's investigation uncovers a host of secrets that threaten not only Father Mateo and the teahouse, but the very future of Japan.


Blade of the Samurai: A Shinobi Mystery
by Susan Spann
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250027055
ISBN-13: 978-1250027054


June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the shogun''s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the shogun's palace. The murder weapon: Kazu's personal dagger. Kazu says he's innocent, and begs for Hiro's help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi's claims.

When the shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest under Hiro's protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda's enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin's skills to reveal the killer's identity and protect the shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo's wife, and the shogun's stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the shogun demanding the murderer's head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.



Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery
by Susan Spann
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250027063
ISBN-13: 978-1250027061


August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro's brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim's spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun's recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro's life is not the only one in danger.

Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro's life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?
User avatar
Steve Hubbell
Taisho
 
Posts: 5807
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2002 15:25 +0000
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Steve Hubbell » Wed Sep 16, 2015 21:59 +0000

This is still one of my favorite mystery series.....

Image


Death at the Crossroads: A Samurai Mystery
by Dale Furutani
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (July 8, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 068815817X
ISBN-13: 978-0688158170


Matsuyama Kaze is a "ronin," a Japanese knight errant. Kaze must travel across Japan until he fulfills a promise made to his dying Lord and Lady -- to find their nine-year-old daughter. As this masterless samurai searches the countryside, he is caught up in a series of mysteries that test his strength and skills as well as his Confucian training.

Kaze stumbles upon a corpse shot with an arrow at the crossroads leading to a small town. He becomes embroiled with an unlikely -- and untrustworthy -- cast of characters, who are as colorful as they are crafty. Each has secrets to keep and axes to grind, and it will take all of Kaze's subtlety, stealth, and Samurai skills to unravel the mystery and unmask the killer.


Jade Palace Vendetta: A Samurai Mystery
by Dale Furutani
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (July 7, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0688158188
ISBN-13: 978-0688158187


Told with the beguiling mystery and historical authenticity that distinguish Dale Furutani's samurai trilogy, this second installment in the series brings us further into the heart of feudal Japan. The saga's hero is noble ronin Matsuyama Kaze, a warrior whose sense of honor is as keen as his deadly sword.

In Jade Palace Vendetta, Kaze continues the search to find his lord's missing child. This time out, Kaze is waylaid when he saves a helpless merchant from a vicious gang of killers and soon discovers that everything is not what it appears. He finds himself trapped in a web of deceit and violence, where a veneer of propriety hides great evil. Only Kaze's quick wit and martial skills can save him and keep him on his quest to find the kidnapped child.


Kill the Shogun: A Samurai Mystery
by Dale Furutani
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (August 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0688158196
ISBN-13: 978-0688158194


In Kill the Shogun, award winning mystery writer Dale Furutani presents the latest in his popular samurai mystery series. He returns to the journey of Matsuyama Kaze, the masterless warrior destined to travel the seventeenth-century Japanese countryside until he fulfills the dying wish of his murdered lord's wife.Until now, Kaze's quick wit and samurai skills have enabled him to solve crimes, untangled himself from deadly schemes, and protect the innocent, all the while keeping his sense of justice and honor. But the danger now facing Kaze, from enemies known and unknown, is greater than ever.

Kaze is the closest he's ever come to fulfilling his quest to rescue his lord's kidnapped daughter. Following a trail of clues, he is led to Edo, the bustling new capital of Japan. Treading in unfamiliar territory , Kaze is the object of a deadly manhunt when an attempt on the Shogun's life fails. He must dodge his lord's rivals, even as he learns that the young girl has been sold into prostitution. In his quest to save her, Kaze teams up with an eccentric cast of local characters who bring feudal Japan to life. The samurai must clear his name and rescue the child as the odds against him grow.
User avatar
Steve Hubbell
Taisho
 
Posts: 5807
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2002 15:25 +0000
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Steve Hubbell » Wed Sep 16, 2015 23:00 +0000

Even though these were written for a younger audience, they are still very enjoyable mysteries......

Image

The Samurai and the Long-Nosed Devils (A Zenta & Matsuzo Mystery)
by Lensey Namioka
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (September 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804836086
ISBN-13: 978-0804836081


Zenta and Matsuzo are wandering ronin (masterless samurai) with a skill and code of honor unlike the ordinary citizens of Japan. Together the stoic Zenta and carefree Matsuzo fall in and out of extraordinary adventures solving mysteries that leave others baffled.

Zenta loves a challenge, which is why he and Matsuzo volunteered to be bodyguards for Pedro and Father Luis two Portuguese missionaries with powerful enemies. Not only are Pedro and Father Luis feared by many of the Japanese in the area because of their unusually pale faces, long noses, and firearms but they're also in the middle of a tense political battle between the shogun and Nobunaga, the most powerful warlord in sixteenth century Japan.

When Pedro becomes the main suspect in the murder of Lord Fujikawa, one of the shogun's supporters, Zenta and Matsuzo must learn to work with the strange foreigner to prove his innocence while also trying to appease Nobunaga and Fujikawa's men. Who really murdered Lord Fujikawa? Zenta and Matsuzo's investigations lead them to surprising conclusions.


White Serpent Castle (A Zenta & Matsuzo Mystery)
by Lensey Namioka
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (September 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804836094
ISBN-13: 978-0804836098


When Zenta and Matsuzo two sixteenth century Japanese samurai arrive at the White Serpent castle they find anything but a warm welcome. Immediately surrounded by a courtyard full of sword-wielding samurai, the two learn that not only is Lord Okudaira dead, but the missing heir to the castle has just arrived to claim lordship over his nine-year-old brother. But who is the legitimate successor?

As Zenta and Matsuzo investigate the maze-like castle, they find more than the haunting cries of the White Serpent ghost a monstrous white creature said to emerge whenever a crisis threatens the castle they also discover jealousy, murder, and a battle for power that neither side is willing to lose. Zenta and Matsuzo are wandering ronin (masterless samurai) with a skill and code of honor unlike the ordinary citizens of Japan. Together the stoic Zenta and carefree Matsuzo fall in and out of extraordinary adventures solving mysteries that leave others baffled.


The Valley of the Broken Cherry Trees (A Zenta and Matsuzo Mystery)
by Lensey Namioka
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (April 1, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804836108
ISBN-13: 978-0804836104


Set in 16th century Japan, Valley Of The Broken Cherry Trees presents an exciting episode in the lives of Zenta and Matsuzo, two honorable ronin (unemployed warriors). Seeking respite at a rural inn, they soon become engrossed in tracking down the person responsible for defacing local cherry trees. Their search quickly places them in the middle of court politics at odds with both of the warlords visiting the area. They embroil themselves in dangerous situations in their efforts to solve the mystery. Added to the suspenseful plot are a multitude of period-specific details that serve to strengthen the authenticity of the tale and display the art and poetry of Shogun Japan, as well as the devious political unrest and martial arts.

Image

Village of the Vampire Cat (A Zenta and Matsuzo Mystery)
by Lensey Namioka
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (April 30, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804836116
ISBN-13: 978-0804836111


When a young ronin returns to the village of his former teacher, he and his companion find it being terrorized by a mysterious killer.


Island of Ogres (A Zenta & Matsuzo Mystery)
by Lensey Namioka
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804836124
ISBN-13: 978-0804836128


Another in Namioka's entertaining mystery series about Konishi Zenta and Ishihara Matsuzo, ronin (unemployed samurai) whose travels through 16th-Century Japan have landed them in several adventures, all filled with plots and counterplots. This story begins from the point of view of Kajiro, a ronin dissipated by drink, who is traveling to an island on sort of a last-chance assignment: to spy on the commander of the island and report back to the ruling family's chamberlain as to his fitness. No sooner does he arrive than he is mistaken for the more celebrated Zenta by Yuri, the commander's sister-in-law. Brought before Yuri's sister, the commander's wife, it is clear that Kajiro does not fool her at all because, it develops, Zenta himself is concealed in her residence, recovering from a wound. Complications pile upon complications in a byzantine plot involving a mad ex-ruler who inspires a rebellion against his successor; a convent which may or may not contain nuns; the struggle of Matsuzo to escape capture by the rebels so that he can help Zenta; and the growing attraction between Zenta and the commander's wife. The main protagonist, however, remains Kajiro, whose growing love for Yuri is frustrated by his fear of her rejection when she discovers who he really is. Appearance versus reality permeates the plot; no one is exactly who he says he is at the beginning, except for the Samurai heroes. The theme is interwoven into the numerous strands of the plot and satisfyingly worked out at the conclusion. Told with abrupt shifts of point of view and in an elliptical style, this may require some patience from those not familiar with Namioka's work, but, as always, they will be rewarded with an action-packed, full-bodied story with an unusual and fascinating background.


The Coming of the Bear (A Zenta & Matsuzo Mystery)
by Lensey Namioka
Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804836132
ISBN-13: 978-0804836135


Around 1600 in Japan, Zenta and Matsuzo, two lordless young samurai, flee the wrath of a local strongman. Their boat washes them ashore in a strange land that they soon discover is Ezo (present day Hokkaido), where they are taken in by the indigenous Ainu. They become involved in the increasing tension between the Ainu and the Japanese colonists who are trying to gain a foothold on the island. A bear that keeps attacking the Japanese settlement (in the dead of winter when these animals hibernate) becomes the casus belli between the two peoples. Amidst heart-pounding suspense, the two stalwarts courageously solve the mystery of the bear and halt the war. The writing is taut and effective, the plot well worked out, and the major characters convincing, although some minor figures are little more than etched in. Particularly noteworthy is the attention paid to the minutiae of Ainu life, including fascinating details about food, medicine, hunting, self-defense, and religion. Presentation of issues of racial and cultural conflict is done with great sensitivity and as an integral part of this vivid recreation of time and place. More than a mystery, the story will appeal to a wider than usual audience and provide an exciting multifarious adjunct to social studies. On top of all this, it's a real page-turner.


Den of the White Fox (A Zenta & Matsuzo Mystery)

by Lensey Namioka
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Browndeer Press/Harcourt Brace (February 1, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0152012834
ISBN-13: 978-0152012830


Who is the White Fox? Is he merely the mysterious, charismatic leader of a doomed political rebellion? Or is he a powerful spirit, taking revenge on the occupying force that desecrated his shrine? And who-or what-shoves Zenta off a cliff on a dark and misty night? Two unemployed samurai in sixteenth-century feudal Japan find themselves engaged in an adventure charged with trickery and political intrigue.
User avatar
Steve Hubbell
Taisho
 
Posts: 5807
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2002 15:25 +0000
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby BuckRogers » Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:59 +0000

These look SUPER! Thanks so much.

There is only so many times that I can reread Yoshikawa's "Musashi" and "Taiko"! :D
The Credit Belongs to the Man Who is Actually in the Arena ....
User avatar
BuckRogers
Shugyosha<Student Warrior>
 
Posts: 658
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:08 +0000
Location: Landstuhl, Germany

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby maichan » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:48 +0000

Wow, these are all new to me.

Other than various comics and graphic novels, I haven't read a book in ages, but these seem like books I'd enjoy.


Steve, what about the others you mentioned - Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro mysteries and I. J. Parker's Sugawara Akitada mysteries? Will you add any 'guides' for them?

Have you read them all?

How would you rate them against one another? Any preferences?
Michael, a.k.a., Maichan

My Usagi Collection
User avatar
maichan
Hatamoto<Special Retainer>
 
Posts: 1954
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 23:04 +0000
Location: A little Minka, somewhere in the countryside...

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Steve Hubbell » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:01 +0000

maichan wrote:Wow, these are all new to me.

Other than various comics and graphic novels, I haven't read a book in ages, but these seem like books I'd enjoy.


Steve, what about the others you mentioned - Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro mysteries and I. J. Parker's Sugawara Akitada mysteries? Will you add any 'guides' for them?

Have you read them all?

How would you rate them against one another? Any preferences?


I just ordered the three books in the Shinobi Mystery series, which is what prompted the initial post here. I did enjoy the other two series shown above when I had read them. I have actually read Dale Furutani's series a few times.

I have fallen way behind on reading the Sano Ichiro series by Laura Joh Rohland and the Sugawara Akitada series by I.J. Parker, having read only five or so books in either series.
User avatar
Steve Hubbell
Taisho
 
Posts: 5807
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2002 15:25 +0000
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Steve Hubbell » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:12 +0000

A couple books concerning murder in feudal Japan from the other side of the law.....

Image

Master Assassin: Tales of Murder from the Shogun's City
by Shotaro Ikenami (Translated by Gavin Frew)
Hardcover: 184 pages
Publisher: Kodansha International; 1st edition (1991)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 4770015348
ISBN-13: 978-4770015341


Baian, a specialist in acupuncture and, secretly, murder, becomes involved with a scheming prostitute, an important witness, two assassins hired to kill him, a victim of natural causes, and a doublecrossing underworld boss.

Described by reviewer Miran Ali as “Usagi Yojimbo for Adults”
“Imagine the Usagi series by Stan Sakai except on steroids, drunk, more violent and just as wonderful.”

Bridge of Darkness: The Return of the Master Assassin
by Shotaro Ikenami (Translated by Gavin Frew)
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Kodansha America; 1st edition (June 1993)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 4770017286
ISBN-13: 978-4770017284


A collection of four thrilling tales of murder and intrigue, set during the early seventeenth century Japan.
User avatar
Steve Hubbell
Taisho
 
Posts: 5807
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2002 15:25 +0000
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby BuckRogers » Thu Sep 17, 2015 13:22 +0000

Baian, the TV series, was SUPER as well! I imagine that the books will be even better!
The Credit Belongs to the Man Who is Actually in the Arena ....
User avatar
BuckRogers
Shugyosha<Student Warrior>
 
Posts: 658
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:08 +0000
Location: Landstuhl, Germany

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Steve Hubbell » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:57 +0000

Another interesting book which I just ordered....

Image

The Blade of the Courtesans
by Keiichiro Ryu (translated by James M. Vardaman)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Vertical; First Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934287016
ISBN-13: 978-1934287019


This Naoki Prize-nominated historical thriller marked the auspicious debut of late-blooming author Keichiro Ryu, who in five years made a name for himself as a master of period novels. In The Blade of the Courtesans, a young samurai by the name of Seichiro Matsunaga, trained in swordfighting by non other than the legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto, finds himself in Yoshiwara (the pleasure quarters of old Tokyo), per Miyamoto's dying wishes. In Yoshiwara, Seichiro finds himself defending its denizens against what may be spies from the Yagyu Clan, including one young woman named Oshabu, whose story runs deeper than still water suggests.
User avatar
Steve Hubbell
Taisho
 
Posts: 5807
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2002 15:25 +0000
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Jubei » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:08 +0000

Steve Hubbell wrote:
maichan wrote:Wow, these are all new to me.

Other than various comics and graphic novels, I haven't read a book in ages, but these seem like books I'd enjoy.


Steve, what about the others you mentioned - Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro mysteries and I. J. Parker's Sugawara Akitada mysteries? Will you add any 'guides' for them?

Have you read them all?

How would you rate them against one another? Any preferences?


I just ordered the three books in the Shinobi Mystery series, which is what prompted the initial post here. I did enjoy the other two series shown above when I had read them. I have actually read Dale Furutani's series a few times.

I have fallen way behind on reading the Sano Ichiro series by Laura Joh Rohland and the Sugawara Akitada series by I.J. Parker, having read only five or so books in either series.



I don't know if they still do, but my library used to have the first Furutani book some years ago, which I did read and quite enjoyed.

I've thoroughly enjoyed the Sano books that I've read so far though I'm behind as well. I think I made it up to Book 6, the Black Lotus whereas the wife has made it up to Book 12, the Snow Empress. But Sano is a terrific character and detective, seeing how he navigates the politics of the shoguns' court, the caste system, and cultural taboos in order to solve crimes is entertaining (and informative).

But man, what is that, 14, 15 volumes by Parker? I haven't heard of her till now but her work sounds interesting. I'm just glad the majority of these books seem available on Kindle. :D
User avatar
Jubei
Shugyosha<Student Warrior>
 
Posts: 180
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 13:00 +0000
Location: The Bright Sunny South

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby Jet_Jaguar » Mon Oct 19, 2015 20:23 +0000

I think they're mostly set in the 20th century (the one historical mystery of theirs I can think of off the top of my head is actually set in China), but Kurodahan Press publishes several mysteries from Japan, including story collections by Edogawa Rampo, the god of Japanese mystery fiction:

http://www.kurodahan.com/mt/e/

This book that I have is worth seeking out too, probably out of print, but Amazon Marketplace has cheap copies of it:

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Japan-Japa ... me+stories
"It doesn't matter whom you are paired against;
your opponent is always yourself."

-Nakamura (via Joe R. Lansdale's Mucho Mojo)
User avatar
Jet_Jaguar
Shugyosha<Student Warrior>
 
Posts: 1281
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 21:37 +0000
Location: TX, United States

Re: Historical fiction & mysteries set in Japan

Postby BuckRogers » Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:44 +0000

Steve Hubbell wrote:
maichan wrote:Wow, these are all new to me.

Other than various comics and graphic novels, I haven't read a book in ages, but these seem like books I'd enjoy.


Steve, what about the others you mentioned - Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro mysteries and I. J. Parker's Sugawara Akitada mysteries? Will you add any 'guides' for them?

Have you read them all?

How would you rate them against one another? Any preferences?


I just ordered the three books in the Shinobi Mystery series, which is what prompted the initial post here. I did enjoy the other two series shown above when I had read them. I have actually read Dale Furutani's series a few times.

I have fallen way behind on reading the Sano Ichiro series by Laura Joh Rohland and the Sugawara Akitada series by I.J. Parker, having read only five or so books in either series.


So I have read the first two of the Shinobi series and am close to finishing the third. Really fun reads. They are not "great literature" in my opinion but very fun and enjoyable. I usually read it for 20 minutes before sleeping and really enjoy it.

My 12 yo daughter, who loves all things Japan, really LOVED all of them.

Thanks for the recommendation Steve!
The Credit Belongs to the Man Who is Actually in the Arena ....
User avatar
BuckRogers
Shugyosha<Student Warrior>
 
Posts: 658
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:08 +0000
Location: Landstuhl, Germany


Return to 日本の話題 - All Things Japan!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests