Sugawara Akitada is the son of impoverished nobility toiling at a low-level job in the Ministry of Justice. When an old friend, Professor Hirata, asks him to investigate a colleague's blackmail, Akitada takes leave of his stultifying job for a temporary post at the Imperial University. There he finds gossip and rivalry abounding. A young girl is murdered. An old man mysteriously vanishes, and the Emperor declares it a miracle. Plunging into a labyrinth of conspiracy among the court's most esteemed nobles, Akitada must step carefully while gathering clues to the puzzle before him.
©2002 I. J. Parker; (P)2008 Books on Tape
A riveting historical mystery set amid the exquisite ritual and refined treachery of 11th-century Japan...NOT! It seems to me that the timeline works best in the late 19th century after the samurai era ended. Taken in that context, it feels better. I can certainly then wrap myself around such phrases "make book on the results", “football”, and some guy named “Spike”.
The author did an exceptionally poor job of placing the reader in the ancient Japanese setting. I felt that more could have been done, such as calling a kimono a kimono instead of a "robe", referring to roads as roads rather than "avenues". Proper cultural terminology is essential to keeping the listener imbedded in the time period.
As for the narrator, Seibei talks like Jar Jar Binks after one or two speech therapy sessions. It is also surprising that some of the characters spoke with a pseudo Japanese accent, while the main character spoke like Mickey Spillane. Bad pronounciation of Japanese names was off-putting. My daughter, hearing my constant mutterings as I audibly corrected the narrator, kept telling me to "shut up", she was so annoyed.
Since I bought the book, I was determined to listen as though it were just a regular old mystery novel. Having done so, I am not compelled to purchase another of I.J. Parker's books of Japan.
I thought the story was very enjoyable and it didn't have many dull points that left me wondering when the story would pick up again. The amount of twists and turns that storyline took was very entertaining. I would recommend this book to others and am now interested in listening to the other books in the Sugiwara Akitada series.
No spoilers from me ;) So, I can't comment on a specific moment, but I will say that certain revelations that the characters experience surprised me and pulled me deeper into the story.
The performance was a little difficult to get used to. I didn't like the narrators use of accents for each of the characters. It sounded like someone doing a racist impression of a Japanese person. It took me little while to get over that little hiccup, but once I did I was able to enjoy the story and even enjoy the different voices the narrator gave to each of the characters.
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