Without a doubt, there are many mystery writers in the publishing world vying for attention, with mystery being one of the top read genres. What’s even more certain is that Susan Spann has written herself to the head of the pack through her precise penmanship and plot-driven puzzles that travel us to medieval Japan and thrust us into the culture of the Shogun and the ninja.
Blade of the Samurai, Spann’s second Shinobi mystery after last year’s Claws of the Cat, is action packed and I read it rather quickly as it kept me turning the pages. Her historical research of the period (with her passion for the culture of Japan shining through), her intricate characters, and her plot that kept me guessing made this book a hit for me as much as Claws of the Cat endeared me to the mysteries of Spann.
It’s an adventure in time and left me feeling as if I’d been compelled to travel to sixteenth century Japan. I loved learning about Japanese history from the mystery, as I have a fondness for it, but Spann teaches it in a way that is easily understandable to any reader and yet doesn’t insult our intellect either! She also doesn’t let it bog down the reader, as she writes succinct and clear and keeps the action moving. I felt the emotions of her characters, especially Hiro–the ninja who is the “investigator” and his partner in solving crime, Father Mateo. They are an unlikely pair who fit like peanut butter and bananas. They mesh well together as they work from suspect to suspect, not knowing they are keeping the readers on pins and needles.
It’s like Agatha Christie set in feudal Japan mixed with some great action adventure ninja movies like I’d cuddle up to watch in the 80s. I’d definitely like to read more books by Spann, she transports me and urges me not to give a care about the clock. 5 Stars in the Mystery Genre!
Blade of the Samurai, Synopsis~
Series: Shinobi Mystery
Genre: Historical Mystery
June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the Shogun’s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the Shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.
When the Shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.
The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the Shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the Shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the Shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the Shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time … or die in his place.
Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in 16th century Japan.
Book One of the Shinobi Mysteries series, Claws of the Cat, was released in 2013.
Praise for Blade of the Samurai~
“The second Hiro Hattori mystery (after 2013’s Claws of the Cat) finds the sixteenth-century ninja—and unofficial investigator—presented with an interesting problem…A strong second entry in a very promising series.”—Booklist
“Hiro and Father Mateo’s second adventure (Claws of the Cat, 2013) combines enlightenment on 16th-century Japanese life with a sharp and well-integrated mystery.”—Kirkus Reveiws
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Author Susan Spann, Biography~
Susan Spann acquired her love of books and reading during her preschool days in Santa Monica, California. As a child she read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).
A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.
Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures.
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