Hell Screen, the

Hell Screen, the

3.95 (377 ratings by Goodreads)
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A tangled web of deceit strikes very close to home in this new mystery of ancient Japan featuring Sugawara Akitada Eleventh-century Japan is the expertly realized setting for I. J. Parker's ingenious mystery series featuring sleuth Sugawara Akitada. In The Hell Screen, Akitada is on his way to the bedside of his dying mother when bad weather forces him to take refuge in a temple whose central treasure is a brilliantly painted hell screen. Perhaps its violent imagery influences his dreams: that night he is awakened by a scream. It's only after Akitada returns to a scene of domestic unhappiness and scandal that the significance of that cry becomes clear. For while he slept, a woman was murdered, and now he must find her killer.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 415 pages
  • 124.46 x 195.58 x 22.86mm | 226.8g
  • Penguin Books
  • New York, NY, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0143035622
  • 9780143035626
  • 475,638

Review quote

aFascinating historical detail and well-drawn characters distinguish Shamus-winner Parker's second Japanese mystery (after 2002's well-received "Rashomon Gate"). On his way back to the capital city of Heian Kyo (now Kyoto), Lord Sugawara Akitada, a government official with a knack for stumbling into crime, stops at a monastery to shake off the cold and get a few hours sleep. Other guests of the Buddhist monks include a well-dressed woman and her companion, a troupe of actors and a renowned artist. After Akitada views the artist's work- in-progress, aptly called the "Hell Screen," his sleep is filled with nightmarish images and a bloodcurdling scream. Not sure whether he was dreaming, Akitada wanders around the monastery but finds nothing amiss. After an early morning departure, Akitada arrives at his ancestral home to visit his dying mother and soon learns of a heinous murder. Realizing the crime took place at the monastery where he slept, Akitada can't resist investigating. Many complications and subplots ensue, all rendered in expertly evocative prose. Parker's remarkable command of 11th-century Japanese history-from the rituals of the royal court to the minutia of daily life within Japan's often rigid caste system-makes for an excellent whodunit. Readers will be enchanted by Akitada, an honorable sleuth who proves more progressive than his time.a
a"Publishers Weekly" (Starred)
aParker has crafted another exotic and compelling mystery set in eleventh- century Japan and featuring government official and sometime detective Akitada Sugawara. Journeying home to attend to his dying mother, Akitada seeks shelter at a monastic temple during a storm. Exhausted and disoriented, he isinextricably drawn to an artistically rendered, yet horrifically realistic, hell screen depicting a variety of gruesome death scenes. When a young woman is murdered during the night, Akitada becomes embroiledB in a complex investigation that involves members of his own family. Exposing the brazen theft of an identity, the wily Akitada is able to untangle the strands of a cleverly plotted series of murders. This intriguing combination of history and suspense is distinguished by a wealth of authentic cultural detail.a
"Parker has created a wonderful protagonista]. With her steady, mature narrative, [Parker] puts us at ease in a Japan of 1,000 years ago."
a"Boston Globe"
"Terrifically imaginative."
a"The Wall Street Journa"
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About Ingrid J. Parker

I. J. Parker, winner of the Shamus Award for "Akitada's First Case," a short story published in 1999, lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She writes regularly for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
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Rating details

377 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 28% (106)
4 44% (164)
3 25% (95)
2 2% (9)
1 1% (3)
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