Take a trip to Heian Japan and win a book ... and we have a winner!
Perhaps that's why Parker opens The Convict's Sword, sixth book in the series, with a squalid encounter, a shabby quarter and a brutal killing – a nice counterpoint to the expectations that her readers may have of the period.
Any author of historical mysteries must balance the history and the mystery, to entertain while remaining reasonably faithful to the historical period, to portray the period without writing a travel brochure or a textbook. Near the novel's beginning, Parker nicely integrates the sword maker, a staple figure in Japanese art, into the story and rather gracefully suggests the respect with which he regards his craft:
"Akitada received the sword and turned to Sukenari. `Please forgive my friend. He's very enthusiastic and forgets his manners when his heart is moved.'
"`I understand. Mine is moved in the same way. The gods dwell in that blade.'"
© Peter Rozovsky 2009