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Published by Viking/Penguin

Also available as an audio book and on Kindle and in other e-formats


The Dragon Scroll is the first novel in the Akitada series.  Akitada is twenty-five years old, an impoverished nobleman and earnest government official on his first major assignment.  His whole future career rides on this performance.

He has been sent to Kazusa province in Eastern Japan to discover the whereabouts of missing taxes before the provincial governor can leave his office and return to court.  Eager and naÔve about political intrigues, Akitada blunders instantly into a dangerous conspiracy when the suspicious death of the previous governor attracts his attention.  This signals a sequence of shocking and bloody violence in the provincial capital.  As two beautiful women play on his sympathies, Akitada is distracted from a duty which becomes less and less palatable.  In the end, both his official and his private persona are tested.


Among the characters, new readers will meet two regulars, the elderly family servant, Seimei, and the impudent womanizer Tora.  The meeting between Akitada and Tora in this novel begins the strong bond between master and servant that characterizes the later novels.


The other characters represent a cross section of Japanese society in the eleventh century; they include noblemen-scholars, Buddhist clerics, minor officials in the provincial administration, soldiers, artisans, wrestlers, peddlers, prostitutes, gangs, and one very unusual young woman who matches her fighting skills against any man.


From the exciting beginning of his journey to the nightmarish climax at the end, Akitadaís adventure in Kazusa is a fast-paced and riveting account of a young manís passage to maturity.


From BOOKLIST (8/25/2005)
by David Pitt

Is there room in the mystery genre for two series set in feudal-era Japan? Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro series is well established, but it's been showing signs of lethargy. Now comes the first Sugawara Akitada novel, a rousing, whip-fast story of political intrigue and adventure in eleventh-century Japan. Akitada is on his first assignment for the Ministry of Justice, investigating the disappearances of imperial tax convoys. He finds himself set upon by bandits, rogues, and--worst of all--shifty politicians. Told with a sure hand and a sharp sense of humor, the novel is certain to capture the interest of readers of historical mysteries, especially those who like a touch of Shogun along with all the action. 

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Review (May 30, 2005)
The Dragon Scroll

Shamus-winner Parker's impressive third Sugawara Akitada mystery (after 2003's The Hell Screen ) deftly pulls the reader into the world of 11th-century Japan. Someone sets up Akitada, a young junior clerk in the ministry of justice, to fail on his first assignment, which is to travel to the province of Kazusa and track down the thieves responsible for missing tax shipments from that remote region. While Akitada's suspicions center on Kazusa's governor, he has to rethink his plans when the governor's predecessor, who had requested a clandestine meeting with Akitada, is murdered. Before he can make much headway solving either crime, Akitada is recalled to the capital, where he faces additional challenges. Parker manages the impressive feat of presenting a classic whodunit in an exotic and unfamiliar setting. Agent, Jean Naggar. 3-city author tour. (June 28)

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