I like historical mysteries, so I was fairly interested in trying this one, a mystery of ancient Japan, even though I have no acquaintance with Japanese history. In general, however, the book was a disappointment. I found the writing not too terribly engaging. It was simply a series of episodes set end to end. I solved the mystery too early, well before the lead character and got to wondering when he would catch on. To be fair (to a fictional character?) he did not have as much information as the reader of the story.
Since I don’t know the culture and period of history involved, I can’t comment on how realistic the book is. I was disturbed by the number of exceptions to cultural norms that were allowed. The reader is repeatedly informed that some action of the main character is a terrible insult, and yet there never seem to be any consequences to such insults. He can do things that just aren’t done, and yet everything goes on as though that had not happened.
Having criticized all of that, if one settles in to read this as a historical novel, and not a mystery or a novel of suspense, one can enjoy portions of the story. Most of the suspense failed to keep me in suspense.
As it stands, I’m rating this book a 2 or 2.5. It’s possible I’ll read another in this series, but not all that likely.