The Iris Fan

Written by Laura Joh Rowland
Review by Ann Chamberlin

Japan, 1709. On a dark and stormy night, an unthinkable crime occurs: The shogun is stabbed with an iron-ribbed fan while sleeping in his own bed with a male concubine. Blood-soaked footprints lead to the women’s quarters.

Sleuth Sano Ichiro is in a shamed exile that affects his family and friends, including Hirata, a master of secret martial arts whose body has been possessed for a couple of installments by the ghost of a general with his own plans for the future of Japan. Will Sano solve the mystery and restore his honor? Will his family leave him, especially his son Masahiro, whom Sano has been forced to marry to the daughter of a political enemy? And as the shogun slowly dies of his wounds, what of the bigger picture? Who will inherit? Full civil war looms, calling all the samurais to choose sides.

Fans of this history-mystery series will be sorry to hear that this is meant to be the final episode. Rowland ties all her loose ends up masterfully and yet never leaves the novice in the dust so we are encouraged to go back and read the tales we missed, just to be plunged back to this time period by such skillful hands.