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CompleteMartialArts.com - Death at the Crossroads: A Samurai Mystery (Samurai Mysteries)

Death at the Crossroads: A Samurai Mystery (Samurai Mysteries)
List Price: $22.00
Our Price: $141.75
Availability: N/A
Manufacturer: William Morrow
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Hardcover
Dewey Decimal Number: 813.54
EAN: 9780688158170
ISBN: 068815817X
Label: William Morrow
Manufacturer: William Morrow
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 1998-07-08
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: 1998-06-17
Studio: William Morrow

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Editorial Reviews:

Matsuyama Kaze is a "ronin," a Japanese knight errant. Kaze must travel across Japan until he fulfills a promise made to his dying Lord and Lady -- to find their nine-year-old daughter. As this masterless samurai searches the countryside, he is caught up in a series of mysteries that test his strength and skills as well as his Confucian training.

Kaze stumbles upon a corpse shot with an arrow at the crossroads leading to a small town. He becomes embroiled with an unlikely -- and untrustworthy -- cast of characters, who are as colorful as they are crafty. Each has secrets to keep and axes to grind, and it will take all of Kaze's subtlety, stealth, and Samurai skills to unravel the mystery and unmask the killer.

Richly atmospheric, filled with historically accurate detail, Death at the Crossroads evokes the world of long-ago Japan and the often lonely life of an honor-bound warrior. It's a spellbinding, deeply satisfying mystery that will leave readers hungry for the next chapter in Matsuyama Kaze's journey of adventure.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: The Samurai with no name...
Comment: Matsuyama Kaze, a Ronin with a mission, finds a dead body on the crossroads. Normally he would just move on but this time he decides to solve the murder. The reason is very simple - the local officials plan to place the blame on a peasant that he happens to like. So he enters a dark world of lies and mad plots so twisted, so detailed, that you'll still be guessing who is behind the murder to the very last chapter.
The book is the first of three in a series about the Ronin and his mission to find his dead Lord's lost little girl. This mystery novel is easily one of the best I have enjoyed in a year. If you like mysteries or Samurai films this is the book for you.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Light and enjoyable samurai mystery
Comment: Death at the Crossroads: A Samurai Mystery is the first of three books that follow the ronin Matsuyama Kaze. In this volume, Kaze and a villager find a dead body at the crossroad of a small village. Kaze is then thrown into the lives of these villagers as he tries to solve the crime. There is a running storyline that goes through all three books which deals with Kaze trying to find a little girl.

Furutani writes pretty well although he does at times meander a bit too much on descriptions of Japanese customs and the like. His characters are pretty interesting and Kaze is a very good protagonist. While many books of fiction that deal with these time periods deal with the big picture of Shogun and rulers and protagonist that gets entangeled in the dealings of powerful men, Furutani concentrates more on the life of a small village and only mentions the most powerful men in Japan as part of backstory. This book could have used a few more interesting characters as only Kaze stands out while the other characters don't really have much going for them.

All in all, it's still an enjoyable read. There are a good amount of Japanese customs and factoids thrown in there and although they sometimes serve to bog down the story, they're for the most part pretty interesting. Kaze is a great protagonist and while the other characters aren't too interesting, they do serve their purpose. The mystery itself is pretty interesting but not really surprising and the eventual outcome isn't too thrilling. However, it's still a good, quick read and if you're interested at all in Japan at that time or in decent mystery novels then you might enjoy this. 3 1/2 stars.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Great Start to the Trilogy
Comment: The first volume in the Matsuyama Kaze trilogy (followed by Jade Palace Vendetta and Kill the Shogun) transports the reader to Japan in 1603, the first year in the long reign of the Tokugawa Shogunate. When the army of Emperor Hidyoshi was defeated at Battle of Sekigahara, hundreds of lords were killed, leading to thousands of samurai becoming masterless warriors, ie. ronin. Matsuyama Kaze is one of these, wanted by Japan's new rulers, he wanders the country under an assumed name on a quest to find and rescue his former lord's young daughter. The book and mystery begins with Kaze discovering a rural charcoal-seller standing over a dead merchant lying at a crossroad. The peasant is soon named as the murderer by the local authorities, who don't seem too concerned with the truth of the matter, and Kaze comes to his defense. For, Kaze is one of the few samurai who feel that peasant's aren't necessarily subhumans, and that justice is worth expending energy on.

The mystery is fairly simple, and most readers will and unraveled all the connections well ahead of Kaze, but the book is pleasurable nonetheless. First, unlike so many mysteries, it's a pleasantly compact tale, easily digested in a single night's reading. Secondly, the cast of characters is small and vivid. There's the stoic charcoal-seller, the village prostitute, a nasty bandit leader, and a weirdo lord who lives according to the customs of six hundred years previously in the Heian period. Finally, the most enjoyable element is Furutani's weaving of period detail throughout the book. Often, a ritual or object will lead to a brief tangential discussion of its development and use. These asides are not always subtle, but are fascinating slices of history and custom. On the whole, the book is reminiscent of a Kurasawa film, with a small story, small cast of regular people, and elegant delivery.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Wonderfull New Historical Mystery Series - Yay!
Comment: This is a new series for Furutani. It features ronin Matsuyama Kaze, a freelance samurai, in 1603 Japan. Kaze is on a quest to find the child of his former master. He is following one small lead after another with dwindling hope of finding the child he has been looking for during the proceeding two years. On his way to his next destination, he comes across a charcoal gatherer who is examining the dead body of a merchant. In spite of himself, Kaze stays around to see what happens and finds himself embroiled in the small town's politics and rivalries as he attempts to unravel the mystery of who killed the merchant and why.

Furutani's writing is lyrical and the reader finds himself enveloped in a cadence that transports the reader to medieval Japan. Like all first books in series, this one must not only develop the character's personality, but provide us with a mystery and a story as well. The latter is no mean feat in and of itself, but Furutani accomplishes the task with ease. Furutani does not set flaunt his research by using every bit of minutiae he picked up, but, rather, he uses it subtly to advance his story and, in the process, educate his readers. For those who, like myself, do not care for Furutani's previous books, be rest assured that the writing here as well as the characters are a very welcome change. The uniqueness of the setting adds to quality of this book.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Brilliantly conceived Historical mystery...
Comment: Writing with the longtime eloquence of an established prose-writer, Dale Furutani paints a sweeping, grandiose picture of Japan in the beginning of an oppressive (somewhat backward and yet modernistic) era-The Tokugawa Shogunate- in 1603.The hero of the novel, a ronin (a samurai sans a master), stumbles across a corpse on a misty mountain pass. In the course of his adventure, Kaze (the ronin), discovers a remarkable collection of characters that Dame Agatha Christie herself would be hard to match. The cast ranges from Aoi, the luckless prostitute, to the ultra-refined Lord Manase (who insists on living life as in Heian period Japan, a period six HUNDRED years ago! ), to the greedy and ambitious Lord Nagato. We also meet the humble Jiro and the somewhat noble Hachiro and Ichiro, while facing the aggravating, and shortlived Boss Kuemon.A captivating yarn, with a little too much blood for the elegant story, nonetheless fails to disappoint. Get a copy today!I can hardly wait for the next two books in the trilogy.

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