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The Fires of the Gods (Akitada Mysteries Book 8) Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Parker raises the stakes considerably for her fallible but honorable series sleuth in her excellent eighth mystery set in 11th-century Japan (after 2010's The Masuda Affair). Ministry of justice senior secretary Sugawara Akitada is already on edge with the impending birth of his second child, having lost his firstborn to illness, when he receives devastating professional news. As a result of interference by controller Kiyowara Kane, Akitada has been demoted to junior secretary, with his incompetent subordinate promoted to his old position. The outraged Akitada seeks an interview with Kane, only to be left waiting in the antechamber without getting an explanation for the slander campaign against him. To make matters worse, he soon comes under suspicion of murder, and he must disobey his superiors to solve the crime himself and clear his name. Parker masterfully blends action and detection while making the attitudes and customs of the period accessible. (Apr.)
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Review

Parker raises the stakes considerably for her fallible but honorable series sleuth in her excellent eighth mystery set in 11thcentury Japan (after 2010's The Masuda Affair). Ministry of justice senior secretary Sugawara Akitada is already on edge with the impending birth of his second child, having lost his firstborn to illness, when he receives devastating professional news. As a result of interference by controller Kiyowara Kane, Akitada has been demoted to junior secretary, with his incompetent subordinate promoted to his old position. The outraged Akitada seeks an interview with Kane, only to be left waiting in the antechamber without getting an explanation for the slander campaign against him. To make matters worse, he soon comes under suspicion of murder, and he must disobey his superiors to solve the crime himself and clear his name. Parker masterfully blends action and detection while making the attitudes and customs of the period accessible. --Starred Publishers Weekly Review, February 7, 2011

Japan, in the eleventh century. Sugawara Akitada, senior secretary in the Ministry of Justice, is having a bad couple of days. A series of fires is devastating the capital city of Heian-Kyo (much later to be known as Kyoto). On the personal and professional front, some nasty, behind-the-scenes political machinations cause Akitada to be demoted to junior secretary, and an incompetent crawler to be installed in his place. Then, after Akitada goes to the home of the man who orchestrated his demotion, the man is murdered, and, wouldn't you know it, Akitada is accused of the crime. He knows he has the ability to prove his innocence, but he's wading into very dangerous waters, and there's a good chance he might not emerged unscathed. This is another sharply written, imaginative entry in the Akitada series. Parker, like Laura Joh Rowland, author of the Sano Ichiro series (set some 700 years later), is adept at blending historical fact and fiction and at giving the reader an education in Japanese history and culture without making a big deal about it. --Booklist, March 1, 2011

At a time of personal and professional turmoil, an 11th-century sleuth must also clear himself from suspicion of murder. Sugarawa Akitada has steadily risen to the post of senior secretary in the Ministry of Justice in Imperial Japan. Along the way, he's solved seven baffling mysteries (The Masuda Affair, 2010, etc.). Impending fatherhood should make him happy, but his wife Tamako's pregnancy is marred by illness. An especially bad day begins with the noxious smell of smoke and the arrival of Akitada's retainer Tora, who's barely escaped a raging fire with his life. Akitada agrees with Tora's assessment that the fire was probably arson. Later that day at work, matters go from bad to worse. Akitada is forced to chastise Munefusa, a careless employee, and after speaking too frankly to the Minister, Fujiwara Kaneie, is pressed to take a leave of absence that could herald his dismissal. Not even the arrival of whimsical court poet Ono Takamura can lift Akitada's spirits more than temporarily. At home, Akitada's devoted secretary Seimei brings the news that nobelman Kiyowara Kane has been murdered and, amazingly, that Akitada, who had visited Kane the day before, is the prime suspect. While Tora is busy invesitgating the suspicious fire, Akitada feels compelled, perhaps unwisely, to solve the murder himself. First among his own suspects is Ono, who makes no secret of his disdain for the victim or his affection for the widow. A brisk and well-plotted mystery with a cast of regulars who become more fully developed with every episode. --Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2011

Product Details

  • File Size: 698 KB
  • Print Length: 427 pages
  • Publisher: Ingrid J. Parker Inc. (December 13, 2013)
  • Publication Date: December 13, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0083D2400
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I.J. Parker was born and educated in Europe and turned to mystery writing after an academic career in the U.S. She has published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, winning the short story Shamus award in 2000. The Akitada series, about an eleventh century Japanese nobleman/detective, now consists of fourteen titles plus a short story collection. The books are available in print, audio format, and on Kindle and are translated into twelve languages.
The two-volume historical novel THE HOLLOW REED is available on Kindle, and so is THE SWORD MASTER. These are set in twelfth century Japan during the Heike wars. An eighteenth century thriller, THE LEFT-HANDED GOD, is set in Europe and is also on Kindle and in print.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the eighth volume in the series featuring Heinan period civil servant and amateur sleuth Sugawara Akitada, The Fires of the Gods continues what we Sugawara fans have grown to love about this series; the continued maturation of the main character. Sugawara Akitada is by now in his mid 30's and has experienced love, loss, exile all the while growing as a man. What is so engaging about his character is that he is truly a product of his time in history with it's very hierarchal, ritual bound society; yet he perceives a more real way of relating to those in his world beyond the bounds of the highly codified relationships of the time. Before it's too late to save the relationships that are important to Sugawara learns the value of listening; to his wife and to his retainers. His strength is in not having all the answers but in relying on the strengths of those who would be considered his inferiors at that time. Of course there is a great mystery to be solved which puts the continuation of his house and the survival of his family at great risk. But fans of this excellent cast of characters can rest assured that Sugawara Akitada and those who share his concerns will bring peace to Kyoto once again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved the series and looking forward to the next instalment. This particular story is in the classic earlier formula. The whole gang is here again. His career/life is in the balance. I wouldn't give it the action rating of Black Arrow, though there is action. Its more of the thinking man's mystery.
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Format: Hardcover
I.J. Parker continues to demonstrate her skill at weaving stories of intrigue with intensely vivid settings and characters. "Fires of the Gods" is a satisfying follow-up to "The Masuda Affair,"involving Akitada defending his position from an unknown antagonist, Toru pursuing a rash of fires many believed are being perpetrated by angry gods, and the sudden death of a high official. Those who have followed the series will be pleased to see the full cast make a return. Highly recommended--here's hoping Parker keeps writing more Akitada books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the exotic setting of this series. It's a little like being plunged into a scene in Heian Japan from an ancient scroll illustrating the Tale of Genji, only our hero is not a nobleman but a hardworking civil servant in the Department of Justice.

In this book, however, Sugawara Akitada does have to deal with the haughty aristocracy, the people "above the clouds." Rich and powerful Lord Kiyowara has been murdered in his sumptuous villa. The tight security of the compound suggests that some insider killed Kiyowara.

Akitada feels compelled to investigate because he himself was waiting to see Kiyowara the day he was murdered - and is a suspect. What was he doing there? Read the book and see!

Akitada has enemies, thanks to a quick temper, too much integrity, and his all too effective investigative skills. His career is in grave danger in this book, not for the first time. So it's rather urgent that he solves this murder. To add to the tension, Akitada's wife is about to have a baby.

Public spirited as he is, Akitada also wishes to investigate the fires that have been flaring up in the capital with suspicious frequency. Are the gods angry, as the common people say? Akitada prefers to look for human perpetrators.

So there are quite a few threads in the plot. And there are some very fun characters, especially among the lower orders, like the Rat, a Robin Hood style master thief, and a small gang of terrifying deaf mutes.

Fires of the Gods is cleverly plotted, and the tying up of loose ends is especially satisfying.
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Format: Hardcover
This was the firset Sugaware Akitada mystery for me and certainly NOT the last! After I finished it, I immediately checked out all of the others I could find at my local library (all but Rashamon Gate) and had to request via interlibrary loan from out of state The Masuda Affair. As soon as it arrives, I plan to devour it! I am eagerly awaiting the next installment - publishers, take note; you need to continue printing this series - it is, simply put, excellent! I have only one small suggestion - plese use a little larger font - some of us haave older eyes and need larger print. Again, I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just finished this book on my Kindle. An excellent read! I.J. Parker has once again brought Akidata and Tora through some of their greatest adventures. When I started, I could barely put it down. The characters are well-developed, the scenery is exquisite and as so many others, I can hardly wait for the next Sugawara Akitada novel. Publishers - shame on you for not promoting and not recognizing quality reading and excellent storytelling!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After a lackluster "Convict's Sword" and the somber "Matsuda Affair," I.J. Parker's eighth Sugawara Akitada mystery "The Fires of the Gods" marks a return to the form that made her "Rashomon Gate," "Black Arrow," "Island of Exiles" and "Hell Screen" such stunning reads. Once again I plunged into an immersive world of cinematic detail - an adventure as palpable as if I were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the principle characters, smelling the smoke, feeling the muggy summer heat, and hearing the spatter of cloudbursts in dusty, sinister alleyways.

Parker weaves an excellent plot out of discrete, seemingly disconnected events - each an irresistible story in itself fraught with palpable danger, political machinations, shadowy intrigue, and decided on issues of honor, integrity and logic rather than arbitrary chance - then draws those events together in a heady, climactic whole. Her thematic commentary on the evils of the Heian-era's feudal caste system is subtle, but all the more powerful for that subtlety.

Just an excellent read that's got me looking forward to number nine (she's just published the thirteenth, I'm seriously behind in my reading thanks to a busy schedule, but Parker's work is helping to make my backlog a situation to be seriously enthusiastic about.) If you love historical fiction and have only now discovered Parker's world, you've just hit the jackpot.
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