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A Creature of Moonlight
Rebecca Hahn
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The Hell Screen - I.J. Parker "A mystery of ancient Japan."

I actually meant to wait to read this book till I'd read the first book in the series, "Rashomon Gate." But then I wound up confusing it with Laura Joh Rowland's "Shinju," and forgot that I hadn't read the novel's predecessor. Turns out – not a big deal. Like many mysteries in series, this is a fully stand-alone novel. It's also extremely similar to "Shinju" – it almost might as well be part of the same series. A minor nobleman of Japan with a talent for solving mysteries and a rocky relationship with the local police chief finds himself embroiled in a murder case, after he spends the night at a temple inn – and the body of a young woman is found horribly mutilated. To complicate matters, the prime suspect in the case is both a commoner – and his dependent sister's secret love.
Akitada wants to investigate - but his mother is dying, his older sister is pregnant, his brother-in-law is suspected of stealing from the Imperial treasury, his younger sister seems terribly depressed, and his wife and son are on the road and possibly in danger...
A cast of colorful characters surrounds the action – an acting troupe, a drunken scholar, a sinister but talented artist, a mutilated prostitute, a female martial-arts trainer... etc... as well as our hero Akitada's sidekicks, the sleazy Tora and the ex-Sumo wrestler Genja.
The book's a fun, quick read, unfortunately, there's not much suspense, because it's not much of a secret "whodunit" – it's mostly just about waiting for the characters to figure it out and hoping they won't come to a bad end before they do...