Death on an Autumn River (A Sugawara Akitada Novel) by I.J. Parker

By I.J. Parker

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There was little left of former splendor. Beyond the fishing boats tied up at the quay, gray-roofed wooden buildings on stilts stretched along the waterfront. The land was flat for half a mile or so, then began to rise slightly toward green hills. There, among the trees, he saw a few blue-tiled, curved roofs of more substantial buildings — temples, mansions, and administrative offices probably. A straight road led from the harbor. He took a deep breath of the air filled with smells of saltwater and fish.

He gulped. “At least . . ” Akitada asked, surprised. Sadenari shook his head. “The others were talking about Eguchi. They’ve been there many times and say those places are full of beautiful women. ” Akitada snorted. “Nonsense. Your father wouldn’t like it. ” Sadenari came from a very proper family. That probably accounted for the fact that at nineteen he was still a virgin. “Yes, sir,” Sadenari murmured, looking dejected. Akitada felt a twinge of pity. The very young had their own worries, but having along a youth in the throes of lust could become a nuisance, perhaps even a danger, when one is tracking corrupt officials.

Sadenari made his humble apology later that day and in private. They had been assigned rooms in Nakahara’s home, a comfortable residence in the compound of the foreign trade office. His story was simple. Unable to sleep, he had stepped outside. Curiosity had led him to stroll back into town to look around. That was where he had met again the young men from the boat, and they had taken him to a wine house. “I meant to have just one cup with them,” Sadenari said miserably. “I thought I would ask them about the poor girl.

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