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'Daughter of the Sword' mixes a modern murder story and past Japanese history

Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein


Steve Bein's "Daughter of the Sword" is an excellent read. A book that defies easy description because it combines a present day cop story with various historical vignettes that revolve around the ill fortunes of the bearers of a legendary magical sword nicknamed the “Beautiful Singer” made by the renowned samurai swordsmith Inazuma. The sword hungers for death and is said to be cursed. Not all who wield it end up dead, but most end up appeasing the sword's hunger in foul ways.

Mariko Oshiro is a female detective in Japan. Her new boss wants her out. So instead of investigating real crimes, she is sent to investigate the attempted theft of Yasuo Yamada’s samurai sword. Professor Yamada is no ordinary scholar but a very accomplished swordsman. Soon he is teaching Oshiro how to fight with his samuarai sword, which was also made by Inazuma. His sword, however, is not evil.

It seems that Fuchida Shuzo, a diabolical criminal has not been content with his position in the Yakusa serving the Kamaguchi. He now wields Beautiful Singer and is hunting for the Inazuma sword owned by Yamada. He wants to sell it to a collector in return for a shipment of drugs.

But before we can even get further into Oshiro’s meeting with Yamada, Bein’s novel travels back in time to tell the story of a honorable samurai, who happens to capture the Beautiful Singer, and shortly thereafter in a bloodthirsty rage kills a loved one with nary a thought.

The novel then skips back and forth between the present era, Oshiro’s lessons with Yamuda and Shuzo’s pursuit of the sword and the past, most of which detail stories of the previous bearers of Beautiful Singer and the ills that befall them when they fall under its spell. But there are also stories about Yamada’s honorable past.

The historical vignettes of an earlier Japan are as well conceived, plotted and told as the present day murder mystery and the fateful collision between Oshiro and Shuzo.

Bein‘s novel is a great read mixing a smattering of magic (the sword's power) and mystery, a cop story, murder, samurai and world war historical fiction – all set in Japan – that seems to be very real.

Although not easy to describe, it is easy to catagorize. It is a winner.

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