Parker, I.J. (Ingrid J. Parker)
Parker, I.J. (Ingrid J. Parker)
Born in Munich, Germany; married Anthony R. Parker; children: Karin. Education: University of Munich, B.A.; Texas Technological University, M.A., 1962; University of New Mexico, Ph.D., 1971. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening.
Writer. Former professor of English and foreign languages.
Private Eye Writers of America.
Shamus Award, Private Eye Writers of America, for "Akitada's First Case" (short story).
"SUGAWARA AKITADA" SERIES
Rashomon Gate, Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.
The Hell Screen, Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.
The Dragon Scroll, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Black Arrow, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2006.
I.J. Parker, a retired language professor, writes mysteries set in eleventh-century Japan and centered on Sugawara Akitada, scion of a noble family fallen on hard times. Akitada toils as a minor official at the Ministry of Justice in Heian Kyo, Japan's one-time capital. In Rashomon Gate, Parker's debut novel, a professor at the Imperial University calls upon his former student Akitada to unravel a blackmail plot and save the University from a cheating scandal. Akitada decides to go undercover, assuming the identity of a lecturer, and is soon immersed in a world of petty intrigues and gossip. His investigations take a more serious turn when a professor and then a young woman are murdered, and a student draws Akitada into his own search for his missing, possibly murdered, grandfather, a delicate matter since the emperor has ruled the old man's disappearance to be a "miracle." "The story moves slowly and seems overlong … but the characters feel genuine, as does the unusual setting," wrote Booklist reviewer Carrie Bissey. "Akitada, impetuous, passionate and intelligent, is aided by a scampish servant, Tora, and an elderly, resourceful retainer, Seimei. Readers should welcome further tales about the trio," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Sugawara Akitada returns in The Hell Screen. On his way to visit his mother, Akitada stops in a monastery for the night, only to be awakened by a woman's scream. He later learns that a woman was supposedly murdered by her lover in the monastery, and he decides to investigate when he realizes that it was her scream that awoke him. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote: "Readers will be enchanted by Akitada, an honorable sleuth who proves more progressive than his time."
In The Dragon Scroll Akitada's efforts to track down missing tax shipments are being sabotaged. Akitada, who is still a junior clerk at the Ministry of Justice, becomes involved when the governor's predecessor, who had requested that they meet, is murdered, and Akitada faces criminal charges fabricated by corrupt politicians. Booklist contributor David Pitt commented that Parker tells the story "with a sure hand and a sharp sense of humor."
A corrupt government is also central to the plot of Black Arrow. Akitada is sent to a northern province to serve as provisional governor, and his three lieutenants, Tora, Hitomaro, and Genbo, follow him to investigate the murder of innkeeper Sato. Akitada deals with family problems, while attempting to govern an unfriendly population, and a family secret involving a castle becomes known. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Parker keeps Akitada's wife, Tamako "in the background but adroitly develops his three sidekicks." Booklist reviewer Steve Weinberg noted: "Themes familiar to many cultures … permeate the pages." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Parker "deftly combines an action-packed plot with convincing period detail."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2002, Carrie Bissey, review of Rashomon Gate, p. 1827; August, 2003, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Hell Screen, p. 1962; August, 2005, David Pitt, review of The Dragon Scroll, p. 2002; November 15, 2006, Steve Weinberg, review of Black Arrow, p. 36.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2003, review of The Hell Screen, p. 837; October 15, 2006, review of Black Arrow, p. 1048.
Library Journal, July, 2003, Rex Klett, review of The Hell Screen, p. 128.
Publishers Weekly, June 17, 2002, review of Rashomon Gate, p. 46; July 21, 2003, review of The Hell Screen, p. 177; May 30, 2005, review of The Dragon Scroll, p. 43; October 16, 2006, review of Black Arrow, p. 37.
I.J. Parker Home Page,http://www.ijparker.com (February 24, 2007).