Friday, February 02, 2007

The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn

by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

You've got to love Sonlight curriculum. My elder child is currently studying world history circa the 17th and 18th Centuries. We've been immersed in European attempts to colonize the New World, reading stories about Spaniards, English and French folks all seeking their fortunes. Then this week--BAM!--we get a mystery story set in 18th Century Japan. There was nary a foreigner in sight. Anyway, that in itself doesn't make this a good book. This is a good book, of course. I'd advise everybody who has a free afternoon to check it out. It's the tale of Seikei, the fourteen year old son of a tea merchant. He is traveling with his father on his way to Edo, the capital of Japan. His father is looking to open a shop there and make the big bucks. Seikei really doesn't want to be a tea merchant, like dear old Dad, but society is such that the station of life into which you are born is the station where you stay. One night during the trip, he and his father are staying at the same inn as a powerful daimyo when the latter has a priceless ruby stolen from him. The local judge--Judge Ooka--arrives on the scene and it soon comes out that Seikei had seen the thief. Of course, it was in the middle of the night, and Seikei claims that it was a horned demon, but that's no reason to doubt his testimony, right? Well, surprisingly enough, Judge Ooka accepts Seikei's story and enlists him to help track down the thief. What follows is an enjoyable tale. As far as the mystery goes, it was only fair, but the Hoobler's handling of setting and character more than makes up for it. I'm strongly tempted to seek out the sequel.
LibraryThing link


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