This is a slim book, just over 200 pages. It is a who-dunnit mystery, but the best part of the novel is the characterizations, particularly Kaze. Kaze is a sympathetic and clever man, and also a fierce warrior, though he prefers not to display that skill. The people of the village are either dimwitted or corrupt, though Jiro and the servant girl at the inn come off in a positive light. Kaze's questions and behavior baffle the villagers - why does he care that a simple merchant was killed, isn't it obviously the work of Boss Kuemon's gang, the outlaw chief?
My only complaint with this book is the clue that Ichiro has a secret cache of weapons that include a bow and two swords (obviously, samurai) but this is never explained. Or else I missed it. And why does Manase have Kaze captured with a net and beaten senseless, only to immediately let him go?
Manase is the Lord of the District. He is obviously a man of refinement, and his sophistication seems misplaced in this poor district so far removed from any large city. Like the Magistrate, he is content lay blame for the dead man on Boss Kuemon. Nor does any one seem interested in leading a party to attack the outlaw camp. Kaze has to deal with all of these obstacles as he investigates who the true killer is.
I don't know much about medevial Japan, but the book seems authentic to me, and it moves along briskly. I intend to read the next book in the series.