[Review]Throwback Thursday: The Sano Ichiro Series by Laura Joh Rowland

This weekly meme is hosted by Casual Readers and comes with the rules:
  1. Feature a book that was published more than a year ago, the older the better.
  2. It must be a book that you have re-read at least once.
  3. Explain to your readers why this book is worth reading over and over again.
  4. Tag four people in your post to share their favorite throwback the following week.

But I don't re-read books (No, really not ever.) and don't tag people to play along. So I'm going to mix and mash Throwback Thursday with this awesome but now defunct meme, Backlist Mondays. It's the same thing but more flexible. The prompt is simple:
On Backlist Mondays, we post reviews (or just whatever impressions we can remember) about books we read before blogging OR reviews of books from publishers’ backlists. Basically, books that aren’t considered “frontlist” reviews for your blog.
Please post a link back to the signup page in your post and add your blog name to the linky widget so everyone can find your backlist recs!
This week I'm doing a series I've loved for 15 books and will be catching up the latest pubs Soon™. There's 3 more for me to read, making the series clock in at 18 at the moment. And it all starts with...

Series: Sano Ichiro #1
Genre: Historical, Mystery,
Age: Adult
Format: MPB, 437 pgs.
Source: Borrowed from Friend
Rating:4 stars
Recommendable? Yes
When beautiful, wealthy Yukiko and low-born artist Noriyoshi are found drowned together in a shinju, or ritual double suicide, everyone believes the culprit was forbidden love. Everyone but newly appointed yoriki Sano Ichiro.
Despite the official verdict and warnings from his superiors, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People suspects the deaths weren't just a tragedy; they were murder. Risking his family's good name and his own life, Sano will search for a killer across every level of society determined to find answers to a mystery no one wants solved. No one but Sano...
As subtle and beautiful as the culture it evokes, Shinju vividly re-creates a world of ornate tearooms and gaudy pleasure-palaces, cloistered mountaintop convents and deathly prisons.
Part love story, part mystery, Shinju is a tour that will dazzle and entertain all who enter its world.

Adult IconCrime IconHistorical IconMystery IconDiverse IconBook Love Icon

Of course, after so long and without any notes I can't review the individual books or give content warnings. :(

But without a doubt, each book rated 4 stars for me and  I can't wait to get back to reading this series. Long series often have trouble with getting into a rut, doing the same thing with zero growth (*cough* Stephanie Plum *cough*) but not Sano Ichiro.

There's character and series progression galore. Sano gets married and has a family, who join with great success and make it that much better. His wife that I won't name for those who haven't read any, is brilliant, subverts her cultural norms in subtle and livable ways, and genuinely contributes to solving cases. Her eventual motherhood isn't the typical, trope-spurred irritating display either.

It has court politics, intrigue, and sabotage done better than any other historical or fantasy novel (The Song of Fire and Ice, for instance) I've read before.  As Sano moves up the chain, it only becomes more perilous.

There is of course a main antagonist, but not everything wraps back around to him at all times. Boy, does he make a good villain when he does though. He gets depth and growth as the series moves along as well.

*happy sigh* Time to put those last three on my library hold list and get cracking.

Recommended for:
if you want historical Japan, great crime mysteries to solve, and want a series that can go the distance.

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