The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn is the first of the Samurai mysteries which is geared towards Juvenile fiction readers. It’s about fourteen year old Seikei who is the son of a tea merchant but dreams of becoming a samurai. However there’s very little chance of becoming one as usually you have to be born into it. While on a journey towards Edo, a jewel intended for the shogun has been stolen in the inn where Seikei is staying at with his father. Seikei finds himself the only witness who has seen the thief, but he calls it a “ghost”. Judge Ooka (also known as the Japanese Sherlock Holmes) finds himself a mystery to solve and requests Seikei’s help to solve this case.
It’s a fairly well written book, and although you do get the solution as to who the culprit was, the main question was: why they did what they did. It was certainly interesting and it focused a lot more on Seikei and how he managed to help Judge Ooka capture the thief and find out the real reasons why the crime was done the way it was done. I think it was well written due to the fact that it paid close attention to detail and it was filled with good amounts of description to give the reader the feel for the time period and how it was like back then. It provided the reader with several tidbits of background information, so the reader won’t be lost in all the historical aspects of the book. However it’s well done so that you do end up getting a mini history lesson without being overwhelmed with information.
Although a mystery, it also did focus on the development and growing maturity in Seikei. Dreaming of becoming a samurai, he gets taught by several characters on how to behave and even fight like one. His behavior develops from a dreamy boy to someone slightly more mature and takes this samurai business more seriously. Although geared towards younger children, there are certain parts of the book where it seems more appropriate for young adults instead. That’s just my opinion about it though.
The plot was well done. It mixes the element of paranormal and with mystery and has it’s similarities with Sherlock Holmes where there’s always a logical explanation to everything. Judge Ooka steps up on this aspect and is shown to be a character with a quiet form of intelligence and stays in the background while Seikei does the actual work himself. In many ways they compliment each other perfectly and make a great mystery solving team.
Overall, I’m definitely picking up the next book after this one. This series has a great potential and has done a good job with this book. Pick this up for a good quick mystery read, with a small history lesson of Japan under Shogun rule.
I give it a 9 out of 10.