What I liked:
1) The setting--Nagasaki in the 1600s, at a time when Japan was beginning to have trade relations with the Western world. This allowed for the exploration of some interesting tension between the Japanese and the Dutch traders, and Laura Joh Rowland did a great job of highlighting and explaining these tensions.
2) Hirata's refusal to allow Sano to sideline him for his protection.
What I didn't like:
1) Sano's stupidity and naiveté! This man just bumbled from one self-made crisis to another. A man this clumsy in his investigations has no business being the Shogun's chief investigator!
2) The repetitiveness of the writing. From Sano's repetitive naval gazing, to the constant re-outlining of who the bad guys could be and what their motivation(s) might have been, I really did not feel like this novel was going anywhere most of the time.
3) Again, the device of someone always being out to get Sano. I get that we need roadblocks in order to keep the story tense, but crimony! Enough with the dastardly villain trying to take out personal revenge on Sano!