Laura Joh Rowland
Laura Joh Rowland is a detective/mystery author best known for her series of historical mystery novels set in the late days of feudal Japan, mostly in Edo during the late 17th century. Her protagonist is Sano Ichirō (佐野 一郎?).
Rowland is the daughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants. She grew up in Michigan and was educated at the University of Michigan, where she graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology and a Masters in Public Health. She lived through a natural disaster in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed her house in New Orleans, and now lives in New York City.
The novels deal with the experiences of Sano Ichiro, a samurai and minor official who, by the end of the first novel, became the trusted chief investigator for the fifth Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, and by the tenth novel, was promoted to a very high office.
Throughout the stories, Sano constantly had to deal with his problems following the code of bushido while serving both justice and his master, the Shogun; and with his wife, Ueda Reiko (上田 麗子?), who frequently involves herself in Sano's investigations. Sano experiences great pressure as he is faced with death if he doesn't fulfill his obligations to the Shogun as well.
Rowland takes some literary licence with known figures, creating fictionalised versions of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, Emperor Higashiyama in "The Samurai's Wife", and Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu. Objective historical details, however, are credibly accurate.
List of novels
- Shinjū (ISBN 978-0-06-100950-1, 1994, Random House)
- Bundori (ISBN 0-7472-1717-3, 1996, HarperTorch)
- The Way of the Traitor (ISBN 0-06-101090-1,1997, Headline Feature)
- The Concubine's Tattoo (ISBN 0-312-19252-5, December 1998, St. Martin's Press)
- The Samurai's Wife (ISBN 0-312-20325-X, May 2000, St. Martin's Press)
- Black Lotus (ISBN 0-312-26872-6, April 2001, St. Martin's Press)
- The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria (ISBN 0-312-28262-1, April 2002, St. Martin's Press)
- The Dragon King's Palace (ISBN 0-312-28266-4, April 2003, St. Martin's Press)
- The Perfumed Sleeve (ISBN 0-312-31889-8, April 2004, St. Martin's Minotaur)
- The Assassin's Touch (ISBN 0-312-31900-2, August 2005, St. Martin's Press)
- The Red Chrysanthemum (ISBN 0-312-35532-7, November 2006, St. Martin's Press)
- The Snow Empress (ISBN 0-312-36542-X, October 30, 2007, St. Martin's Minotaur)
- The Fire Kimono (ISBN 0-312-37948-X, November 11, 2008, St. Martin's Minotaur)
- The Cloud Pavilion (ISBN 0-312-37949-8, October 27, 2009, Minotaur Books)
- The Ronin's Mistress (ISBN 0-312-65852-4, September 13, 2011, Minotaur Books)
- The Incense Game (ISBN 9780312658533, September 18, 2012, Minotaur Books)
- The Shogun's Daughter (ISBN 9781250028617, September 17, 2013, St. Martin's Press)
- The Iris Fan: A Novel of Feudal Japan (ISBN 9781250047069, December 9, 2014, St. Martin's Press)
- It is not known if it is coincidental or intentional on the part of the author that the protagonist's name Sano Ichiro could be interpreted as a homage to one of Japan's most famous deductive fiction writers, Murayama Ichiro (丸山 一郎?), born in 1928, who uses the pen-name of Sano Yo (佐野洋.)
- The title of the first novel is the Romanised form of the term written in kanji as 心中, pronounced as Shinjū, which refers to a suicide pact by a pair of lovers.
- The title of the second novel is the Romanised form of the term written in katakana as ブンドリ (bu-n-do-ri), which means "Seizing the soil of the vanquished.", or simply spoils of war or war trophy.
- The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Brontë (Overlook Press)
- Bedlam: The Further Secret Adventures of Charlotte Brontë (Overlook Press)