I just finished Laura Joh Rowland’s book THE WAY OF THE TRAITOR, one of her Medieval Japan PI books. I love being spoon-fed bits of history and culture this way, through period mysteries (and, I happily confess, period romances).

But here’s the thing: As I finished it, I felt it seemed very familiar–the two or more sides whacking people right and left, the loner PI from out of town in the middle of it, the whore with Something To Tell who becomes one of the victims…. The parallels weren’t exact, but I realized that I was thinking of Dashiell Hammett’s RED HARVEST.

I know Kurasawa did a tribute to that book in his wonderful samurai movie YOJIMBO, but I wondered if this were yet another tribute.

Whether it was meant or not, I enjoyed the flash of recognition, and I enjoy Rowland’s books, even if they do have more violence and more naughty bits than I like.

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