- Paperback: 306 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur (20 August 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250031117
- ISBN-13: 978-1250031112
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Incense Game Paperback – 20 Aug 2013
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"Excellent. . . . With mystery, excitement and a bang-up ending, this is one you won't be able to put down!" --RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
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The mystery begins oddly enough with a game, The Incense Game. Usugumo is the lady who oversees the game. When the mystery begins, it involves two sisters who are playing the game with her. The mystery will involve the murder of all three women. The mystery is difficult to solve because so many people have a motive including the two sisters who play the game and also, Usugumo. She may be good at leading a game, but she treats people with disrespect through blackmail. The two women who come to play despise one another for an assortment of reasons. It's highly plausible that one of them could have poisoned the other one out of sheer hatred and jealousy. Usugomo only becoming a murdered victim because she happened to partake of the poisoned incense in this scenario.
However, this is only one or two scenarios for the murders. Sano and Reiko will reach many other conclusions before hitting on the real reasons for the murders. The solution to the crimes totally shocked me. I had no idea. A shocking ending makes a wonderful mystery. After reading the solution to the crimes, I just had to hold the book for a while sitting in awe of how one person's life became totally changed because of the choices made by people around him. These bad choices set this person off on a murderous trail which didn't seem to ever come to an end. However, this is no excuse for the murders.
I did feel that Laura Joh Rowland wanted a strong woman to play the part of a main character. Reiko is very strong minded. However, toward the end of the novel she became stronger and stronger, unbelievably strong for a woman in her condition. If the author didn't have the intention to make Reiko a superwoman with an "aura," then, she failed. Reiko, without aura, became a comical sideshow.
If Reiko did have aura, a mind with super powers, then, the character worked well and accomplished the display of a super mind with super strength. So, one answer about Reiko makes the difference whether I can accept her as a person who might have really lived as a wife and mother in Japan.
Who is my favorite character? I'm not sure. The side characters could become characters in a novel where they act as main characters. Obviously, the author does a super job when developing characters. The earth quake and Tsunami could have been developed more, I thought. There were a few shattered buildings, but not enough development of either disaster to make me say, "I hope to never live through an earthquake or Tsunami." The descriptions of the disasters were scattered at best. The bomb that is thrown and hits Sano and Reiko's children was more developed than the natural disasters. Also, the winter, the snow, in Japan is well developed. I really came away from reading the novel knowing Japan can become very cold. Again, not the natural disasters are slipped pass as incidentals.
Still, I will glad read another novel by Laura Joh Rowland. She does a fantastic job of keeping the killer concealed and giving the murderer a motive or motives. I'm still in shock. I am glad to see she has a long list of novels written. I have heard there is one newer than The Incense Game. There is a map at the beginning of the novel which I enjoyed. I would have also liked a listing of pronunciations of the Japanese names. I was curious how to really pronounce the names. In the end, the novel by Laura Joh Rowland is fine Historical fiction. holymtn.com/gods/FragranceJapaneseLife In the novel, the author writes in detail about The Incense Game. laurajohrowlandsano
I do enjoy the writing and the tales. This is much better than the last few books she has written.