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Published by Viking/Penguin
The fourth adventure of Sugawara Akitada begins when two senior officials of the court order him to nearby Sado Island to investigate the death of an imperial prince in exile. Remote Sado Island is noteworthy only for its penal colony and gold mine. When its most illustrious prisoner, Prince Okisada, is murdered and the governorís son is arrested, the court sends Akitada from neighboring Echigo to investigate.
In a covert mission as a prisoner, Akitada clears the accused and discovers a deadly conspiracy but at the cost of falling into the hands of brutal guards and disappearing into the bowels of the earth. Though there seems no hope, Tora, his loyal friend and assistant, begins his own dangerous search of the island. Only endurance and determination ultimately free Akitada to join with Tora and complete his mission successfully and with surprising results.
Publishers Weekly Starred Review (July 30, 2007)
Island of Exiles
I.J. Parker. Penguin, $14 paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-14-311259-4
Parker's fourth Sugawara Akitada mystery (after 2006's Black Arrow), set in 11th-century Japan, manages to outplot its superb predecessors. When exiled and disgraced Prince Okisada is poisoned on Sado Island, a penal colony, Akitada is recruited by a shadowy pair of high-ranking government officials who devise a risky plan to find the killer. While the local governor's son has been arrested for the murder, suspicions linger that he was framed by high constable Kumo Sanetomo as part of a plot against the emperor. Akitada, disguised as a convict, infiltrates Sado Island and suffers physical abuse from corrupt guards and police as he uncovers indications that the prince may have ingested the fatal blowfish toxin by accident. The fast-moving, surprising plot and colorful writing will enthrall even those unfamiliar with the exotic setting. The Shamus Award Parker won with her first Akitada short story may soon have company. (Sept.)
New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
You couldnít ask for a more gracious introduction to the exotic world of Imperial Japan than the stately historical novels of I. J. Parker. Designed around an 11th-century provincial detective named Sugawara Akitada, these mysteries are saturated with details about the social milieu in which each investigation is set. ISLAND OF EXILES (Penguin, paper, $14) finds Akitada undercover on Sado Island, known for the penal colony that supplies slave labor for the local silver mines. It takes him a dangerously long time to discover who poisoned the colonyís highest-ranking prisoner ó the emperorís treasonous half-brother ó and then framed the governorís son for the crime. But in disguise as a convicted murderer, Akitada is quick to learn the value of a manís life in a place where ďa human being is nothing but a candle in the wind.Ē
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