Adopted samurai Seikei goes to the shogun's palace to view a demonstration of European medicine. Instead, he sees a murder as one of the foreigners dies of poisoning. Another of the foreigners wants to take away the young nephew of the dead man, but the boy is reluctant. He does not speak Japanese, so to keep him out of harm's way, Seikei's foster father tells Seikei to take him to the foreigners' base at Nagasaki. What seems like a simple task soon turns into a dangerous one, for many people seem to want the boy for their own peculiar purposes. Seikei has to use all his ingenuity and daring to carry out his mission and find the murderer as well.
Seikei was born the son of a prosperous tea merchant but he'd always dreamed of being a samurai. As the classes in Japan are set by birth, Seikei wasn't likely to become part of Japan's warrior class. But Seikei's curiosity and intelligence draw the attention of Judge Ooka, a well respected samurai also known as the "Sherlock Holmes of Japan". When Seikei assists Judge Ooka in an investigation, he asks and undertakes to adopt the young Seikei.
While not everyone is excited to have a former merchant become samurai, Seikei works hard to show his worth and loyalty. The Red-Headed Demon is the seventh book in the series and marks Seikei's first encounter with a young foreign visitor. Over a century ago, the Shogun's ancestor had banned foreigners from entering Japan. Now, foreigners only allowed in small carefully monitored and guarded areas. So, when the Shogun invites a Dutch trader/physician and his young nephew named Hans to the palace, Seikei is excited to meet these unusual characters. Also invited to the meeting is a Kirishitan priest, a Jesuit and rival of the Dutch traders. When the Dutch trader/physician is poisoned, Judge Ito and Seikei try to ensure the young red headed visitor's safety - but without disobeying the Shogun's orders - which requires Seikei to sneak out of the palace and to the port where young Hans's compatriots are docked. They must avoid the rival traders, unexpected dangers, and overcome their own prejudices.
The Red-Headed Demon is both incredibly funny and an engaging adventure. There aren't that many middle grade books that deliver the same interesting and complex characters in this unique setting.
About the Authors:
Dorothy Law Hoobler was born in Philadelphia in 1941 and grew up in Crestwood, NY where she attended public schools. She graduated from Wells College in Aurora, NY with a degree in history and a masters in history from NYU. She and her husband Thomas were married in 1971 while both were working at textbook publishers. Four years later, they published their first book, a biography of Margaret Mead for young readers. As of 2006, Dorothy and Tom have published under their own names 90 books, more published in the subsequent years.
Thomas William Hoobler was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he attended Catholic schools. He began working in his father's print shop while still a boy and earned his first wages as a proofreader at the age of ten. He obtained a degree in English in 1964 from the University of Notre Dame. Tom participated in the Writer's Workshop of the University of Iowa and returned to Cincinnati to reach school. He graduated with a masters in education from Xavier University in 1970 and moved to NYC in 1971. He met his future wife Dorothy the first day that he was in NYC. He worked on trade magazines and for a textbook publisher. Besides the books that Tom has published with his wife, Dorothy, Tom wrote two science fiction novels with Burt Wetanson.
The Hoobler's books have been cited many times for excellence by the New York Public Library in its annual publication Books for the Teen-Age and the Parents' Choice Foundation They have also received significant awards from the National Council on the Social Studies and the Society for School Librarians International. In 2005, the Mystery Writers of America gave the Hooblers an Edgar for their YA novel, In Darkness, Death, the third book in the Samurai Detective series.
Learn more about Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler at HooblerAuthors.com