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.
"Well, okay, so...!"
Lord Sugawara Akitada, the senior secretary in the Ministry of Justice, must find the mysterious killer of a man condemned to live in exile for a crime he did not commit. Meanwhile, Akitada's retainer, Tora, investigates the sudden death of a blind street singer, whose past life is a bigger mystery than anyone thought. Told in Parker's clever, vivid prose, The Convict's Sword is a must-read for those who love well-written mysteries in an exotic setting.
As Black Arrow opens, Sugawara Akitada assumes his new post as provisional governor of Echigo, a frigid province in the far north notorious for its hostility to outsiders. But the snow that threatens to completely isolate the region is the least of his problems - which include a local uprising, a series of brutal murders, and a mystery that's as old as the frozen hills and a lot more dangerous.
On Sugawara Akitada's first official assignment as a young government clerk in 11th-century Japan, he is sent from the capital city on a nearly impossible mission to Kazusa to discover why tax convoys are disappearing. In the politically murky world of the Japanese court, he has been set up to fail. However, the resourceful Akitada, his elderly servant, Seimei, and his impudent bodyguard, Tora, are determined to fulfill their mission and discover the truth in a town of dangerous secrets.
"Anachronistic, with a weak narrator"
When the exiled Prince Okisada, the most illustrious prisoner of the penal colony on Sado Island, is poisoned, Akitada is called upon by the emperor's envoys to investigate incognito. Posing as a prisoner, he discovers a deadly conspiracy, only to fall into the hands of brutal guards and disappear. It falls to Tora, Akitada's devoted assistant, to begin his own dangerous search of the island for his lost friend and the truth.
An exotic mystery set in 11th-century Japan....Akitada is on his way to the bedside of his dying mother when bad weather forces him to take refuge in a temple whose central treasure is a brilliantly painted hell screen. Perhaps its violent imagery influences his dreams: that night he is awakened by a terrible scream.
It's only after Akitada returns to his family and a scene of domestic unhappiness and scandal that the significance of that cry becomes clear.
"The Hell Screen"