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Written in 1910, The Illustrious Prince is set in England some time after the Russian-Japanese War which ended in victory for the Japanese in1905. The story revolves around Prince Maiyo, a Japanese nobleman visiting England on behalf of his cousin, the Emperor of Japan, who is seeking a western ally from among the European countries. Two American spies are murdered, an intrepid detective from Scotland Yard is hard on the trail of clues that will lead him to the killer, and the British Home Office is courting Prince Maiyo in the hope that he will advise his cousin the Emperor to choose Great Britain as its ally. As Scotland Yard races to solve the mystery of the murders, several highborn ladies and gentlemen from the British aristocracy befriend the charming Prince and get caught up in the intrigue. What was fascinating for me was the historical and political context of the book which addressed the world stage just prior to1910 through the opinions of the characters in the book (the Americans and Japanese were contemplating war for control of the Pacific at this early stage, Germany was building its powerful war machine, England appeared to be mostly clueless as to the need for a strong non-mercenary infantry, and Japan was definitely flexing its muscles). The book was written four years before the outbreak of WWI and more than 30 years before Pearl Harbor. This is my second book by this prolific author, and I can't wait to read more of them.
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