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June 28 , 2009

The Fire Kimono

A Novel


Japan, March 1700. Near a Shinto shrine in the hills, a windstorm knocks down a tree to uncover a human skeleton, long buried and forgotten. Meanwhile, in the nearby city of Edo, troops ambush and attack Lady Reiko, the wife of Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective who has risen to power and influence in the shogun's court. The troops who attacked Reiko appear to belong to Sano's fiercest enemy, Lord Matsudaira, who denies all responsibility. But if the rivals are not to blame for each other's misfortune, who is?

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Japan, 1704. In an elegant mansion a young woman named Tsuruhime lies on her deathbed, attended by her nurse. Smallpox pustules cover her face. Incense burns, to banish the evil spirits of disease. After Tsuruhime takes her last breath, the old woman watching from the doorway says, "Who's going to tell the Shogun his daughter is dead?"The death of…

Just as Sano's strife with Matsudaira begins to escalate to the brink of war, the shogun orders Sano to investigate the origins of the mysterious skeleton, buried with swords that identify it as belonging to the shogun's cousin, who disappeared forty years earlier on the night that a cursed kimono touched off a fire that nearly destroyed the city.

Suddenly, Sano and Reiko are forced to confront dangerous, long-buried secrets that expose Sano's own mother as the possible culprit. The shogun gives Sano and Reiko just three days to clear her name—or risk losing not only their position at court but their families' lives.

The Fire Kimono is another dazzling historical mystery from Laura Joh Rowland.

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