Tag Archives: feudal Japan

Review: Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann – Historical Mystery

Review – Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann

02_Trial on Mount KoyaSeveral months ago I was fortunate enough to read Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann, which is the sixth book in her Shinobi Mystery series. Anyone follows my reviews must know by now how much I love this series, so I was highly anticipating this new one. The fifth book last summer, Betrayal at Iga, I had felt was her best yet, but I didn’t have much doubt that she’d still excel with this one as well. It released July 3, but I held my review until now as part of a larger scheduled publicity tour.

Once I found out that her childhood, and I suppose her adulthood, love of Agatha Christie inspired her to give a nod to And Then There Were None, my personal favorite Christie novel, I was instantly sold anyway. Couple that with ancient Japan, the same amazing characters in master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo, and Spann’s elegant writing, and I couldn’t wait to tear open the cover.

Publisher’s Weekly gave it a stellar review: “Cleverly riffs on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None… Spann has never been better at balancing mystery with the politics of the era.”

As I tell readers in my reviews with all these books, they can be read as stand-alone novels as far as each plot goes. But as with most mystery series in which same characters reside, you certainly get more out of the characters, their lives, and their development if you read the entire series, but it doesn’t matter much which one you start with, so if you choose this one, going back later to the first book and trending through would be pleasurable reading too.

In this adventure, Hiro is asked to go to Myo-In, a Buddist Temple on Mount Koya, to deliver a secret message to an Iga spy posing as a priest. Of course, in proverbial mystery style, a snowstorm arrives locking everyone in, and so does a killer, taking them out one-by-one.

First, it’s probably the best place to reiterate just how much Spann has been able to grow Hattori and Mateo throughout the series. Her character development leaves us as long-time series fans feeling as if we know these two in real life. That said, in each of her books, never more true than with this sixth book, her surrounding cast of characters are also very dimensionally developed even if they aren’t featured in more than one book. I love how her writing can be so descriptive and deep as to make us immediately be able to view these characters and their surroundings in our minds like we’re watching a movie. With Trial on Mount Koya specifically, the two main protagonists are in an enclosed setting, making it increasingly harder one would think to nurture a character outward, but Spann intricately, through dialogue and pace, shows us just how strong these men are when faced with such pressure. As always, one of the best parts of reading her books is the humor between the two gentleman, and from page one, it was right there, drawing me in feeling as if I was back traveling with friends (oh, and a cat!).

In talking about setting then, with the severe storm, they all are in enclosed and in tight circumstances, which makes this novel atmospheric and claustrophobic, just as a real classic Christie novel might or a good film. This plays well with Spann’s descriptive writing and her amazing handle on dialogue, leaving us as the reader on edge ourselves.

Spann’s writing is highlighted in this novel by her ability to challenge herself with each book, her adept use of cinematic prose, and her talent for suspense, this time psychological thrills. I felt on the edge of the movie theatre seat of mind for the entire read.

Not only was this a blast to read, and a much needed one for some reading stress relief, but it was also so interesting to learn more not only of Japan in past books, but of Buddhism and its history and meanings. Spann also, in lieu of the other political themes from 16th century Japan in her other books, shows us various cultures and personalities of priests and characters adorning the plot of this novel and how they intersect (or don’t) with each other, which was very interesting as well. As always, Spann is a wealth of knowledge, but you almost forget you’re learning as you’re wrapped up in her succinct and engaging plot.

Spann is currently climbing 100 summits in Japan and spent release day on Mount Koya. I can’t imagine a more spectacular way to celebrate another novel. If you only read one book a summer, I’d with great pleasure suggest reading Spann’s Shinobi Mysteries. Trial on Mount Koya beats out Betrayal at Iga for best of the series, and also is my favorite read of 2018 so far. Not many books for pleasure reading are capturing my attention at the moment, and as a book editor, many are making me halt and want to get out my red pen, but Trial on Mount Koya was like taking a grand vacation! This is what good reading is all about, fellow bibliophiles.

Trial on Mount Koya is a mystery full of suspense, chilling atmospheric tension, and unique characters that will keep you guessing till the last page when you’ll scream at your cat laying next to you, “I should have known!!” Spann fools me EVERY time. If you want a historical mystery full of substance, beautiful imagery, comedic dialogue, and serious killers pitted against a stubborn ninja, then Trial at Mount Koya is for you. Spann brings Agatha Christie to feudal Japan and takes mystery writing to the next level.

I can’t wait for the seventh book!!

02_Trial on Mount Koya

Trial on Mount Koya
by Susan Spann

Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Seventh Street Books
Paperback & eBook; 256 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Hiro Hattori, Book #6

 

 

Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head up to Mount Koya, only to find themselves embroiled in yet another mystery, this time in a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan’s most sacred peaks.

November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple at the summit of Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead.

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Praise for Trial on Mount Koya

“A page-turning and atmospheric historical mystery that beautifully melds fascinating Japanese history with a cleverly constructed mystery reminiscent of And Then There Were None—if the famous Agatha Christie mystery had been set in medieval Japan on a sacred mountaintop during a snowstorm.” —Gigi Pandian, USA Today–bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries

“Susan Spann is up front in saying that Trial on Mount Koya is an homage to Agatha Christie. Believe me, she does the great Dame Agatha proud. This excellent entry in Spann’s series of Hiro Hattori mysteries offers plenty of esoteric clues and red herrings that are fun to chase. Along the way, she even does Christie one better, giving readers a fascinating glimpse of life and religion in feudal Japan. This is a book sure to please Spann’s growing legion of fans as well as anyone who loves the work of Agatha Christie.” —William Kent Krueger, Edgar® Award–winning author of Sulfur Springs

Author Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the award-winning author of the Hiro Hattori mystery novels, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo.

Susan began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child 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.

Susan is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year, a former president of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (National and Sacramento chapters), the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is represented by literary agent Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.

When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, photography, and hiking. She recently packed-up her home in Sacramento and moved to Japan with her husband.

For more information, please visit Susan Spann’s website. You can find Susan on Facebook and Twitter (@SusanSpann), where she founded the #PubLaw hashtag to provide legal and business information for writers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway!

As part of Historical Fiction Historical Book Tours, there is a giveaway of five (5) copies of Trial on Mount Koya! To enter, please click this title Trial on Mount Koya, which takes you to the Gleam link.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Talking with Susan Spann: Mystery Writing and Visiting Japan Over Sake

Today I have a marvelous interview with one of my favorite people and historical mystery writers, Susan Spann! I reviewed her fourth Shinobi mystery of feudal Japan last week, The Ninja’s Daughter. You can check that out here. Then, join us for jelly and sake as we talk about her work, her travels to Japan, and what’s upcoming in this marvelous series.

Enjoy….

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Hi Susan!! Welcome back to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I always love when you have a new book and drop by to see me (or when you don’t have a book out and drop by to see me – haha!). You are always interesting in so many ways. I was very excited for your fourth book, THE NINJA’S DAUGHTER and you didn’t disappoint. Of course, this summer you aren’t just returning from Japan like last summer, but you’re just as busy. What has your book release and summertime had you up to?

Susan: Hi Erin! Thank you so much for inviting me back – I love your blog and appreciate the chance to chat with you! This summer, I’m putting the finishing touches on next year’s Hiro Hattori novel, Betrayal at Iga, preparing the outlines for the next few in the series, and planning a research trip to Japan this autumn—when I’ll also be teaching two workshops at the 9th annual Japan Writers’ Conference.

Erin: You have a busy summer! It’s all gone so quickly and now I love seeing all four Spann titles on my bookshelf. I eagerly await more to come…and I love road trips. Come in and have seat. I’ve tried to prepare your favorite sake, I’m still a novice, so I hope you like it. And Hakuto peach jelly…I thought it was worth a try because I love peaches in the summer! I’ll serve it up and we’ll chat!

Hakuto_peach_jelly

 

Caption: Hakuto Peach Jelly (Wiki)

Susan:  Japanese jellies are fantastic, and sake is always welcome! Such wonderful treats!

Erin: Though all your mysteries can be read as stand alone novels, how does it feel to see the progression of Father Mateo and Hiro as well as the fourth of the mysteries publishes?

Susan: I love spending time with Hiro and Father Mateo, and I enjoy it even more with each new novel. I try to write each mystery as a stand-alone book, so readers can enter the series at any point without feeling lost, but I definitely consider the ongoing story of Hiro and Father Mateo’s friendship an important part of the series, and I try to deepen that relationship with every new installment. I believe that some of the richest relationships we form are those we develop with people who are different from ourselves, and Hiro and Father Mateo give me the chance to explore that concept in my fiction.

Erin: What do you think each has learned over this time that has changed them for the better?

Susan: Medieval Japanese culture was surprisingly tolerant when it comes to religion and personal views—as long as people showed equal respect for the views of others. However, Hiro has had to learn a deeper level of tolerance when it comes to Father Mateo, and the priest has been good for smoothing some of Hiro’s rougher edges. In return, Father Mateo has learned to appreciate the Japanese sense of honor (which often conflicts with his Western sensibilities) and to balance his usually blunt approach with a greater sense of cultural politeness.

Erin: I know you do a lot of research into feudal Japan for your books, through reading, studying, and travel. In this newest book you had much surrounding the political atmosphere of the time. What did you learn or study for The Ninja’s Daughter? Why is it important?

Susan: I typically read 3-5 new research books for every novel, and consult a lot of historical sources and experts to ensure I have the details right. I set my novels during the 1560s precisely because of the turbulent political climate (Japan was on the brink of a war that ultimately led to its unification by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu at the start of the 17th century). War and political tension form an excellent backdrop for mystery, because of the increased dangers my protagonists have to face.

The main research for The Ninja’s Daughter actually involved Nōtheater, the traditional form of Japanese drama that features so heavily in the book. As usual, 99% of the research doesn’t make it onto the page—pacing and plot come first, as always—but I wanted the reader to feel immersed in the beautiful and often mysterious world of traditional Japanese theater.

For me, accurate details transform a novel from an interesting story into a living, breathing world for the reader to enjoy. I love novels that transport me to another time and place, and I try to do the same in my own books!

Erin: I always like how you showcase a different part of Japanese culture and history in each book as well, such as in this one you focus on the Kyoto theater guilds. I know socially, it was looked upon as shameful. Can you talk more about this? Why you chose it as backdrop for your mystery, the history of it, and how someone might find more information on it if they are interested?

Susan: Medieval Japanese society rested on a four-tiered system of social classes, with samurai (nobles) at the top, followed by farmers (this surprises many people, but samurai considered the farmers more important because they grew the rice that formed the foundation of Japan’s monetary system), artisans, and merchants. Merchants sat at the bottom, despite their wealth, because they did not produce anything on their own, but merely traded in the fruits of others’ labors.

Beneath and outside these social classes were several other groups of people—most of whom were outcastes and all of whom were considered less valuable than those who lived within the standard structure. While not entirely untouchable, actors (and other entertainers) were considered “outsiders” and often referred to by names I don’t actually use in my novels because of their negative social charge. That made this mystery fun to write, because the issues of class and society added another layer of meaning to the story.

Noh Theatre is a fascinating topic. You can find a number of performances on YouTube, and readers who want to learn even more may want to check out Zeami’s original medieval treatise, The Spirit of Noh (https://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Noh-Translation-Treatise-Fushikaden/dp/1590309944) which is one of the founding documents on which the discipline rests, even today.

Erin: Japan has rich and deep history. What are some of the favorite things you’ve come across in your visits to Japan? Favorite places and things? 

Susan: How much time do I have? I can go on, and on, and on…

One of my favorite places in Japan is Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shrine), in Fushimi, just south of Kyoto. I used it as a setting in The Ninja’s Daughter because Nō plays were often performed there during the 16th century. The stage in the photo below did not exist at that time (they used a temporary stage) but the setup of the stage itself would have been similar even in that era.

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Fushimi Inari is located on Mt. Inari, and is sacred to Inari Ōkami, patron of agriculture, rice, swordsmiths, merchants, fertility, foxes and many other things (Inari gets around); the shrine is famous for its thousands of bright red torii, Shintō gates that mark the entrance to a sacred space. The gates line the mountain’s slopes all the way to the top:

15K09 Inari 3.jpg

 

Another of my favorite locations in Japan is Itsukushima Shrine, which sits on the island of Miyajima, across the strait from Hiroshima. The Great Torii at the entrance to Itsukushima is one of Japan’s best-known iconic symbols, and it even survived the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II:

15L28 Great Torii.jpg

 

Miyajima is also home to thousands of sacred deer (sika) which have no fear of humans, as this photograph of my son demonstrates:

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Itsukushima Shrine is unusual, because the shrine is built below the high tide line, on stilts, and when the tide comes in the shrine’s buildings appear to float on the water:

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It’s one of the most serene and beautiful places in Japan, and I can’t wait to return.

Erin: At this point, I am sure that Mateo and Hiro are very real to you as they are to those of us who have followed the series. What other characters speak to you now as the series progresses? What new characters might we look forward to in future books?

Susan: Next year’s Betrayal at Iga takes Hiro and Father Mateo back to Hiro’s ancestral home in the mountainous village of Iga, home of his ninja clan, the Igaryu. In 1565, the Igaryu was led by the infamous Hattori Hanzo (later, known as “Devil Hanzo”), one of Japan’s most famous historical ninja. I’ve been looking forward to bringing him into the series, and hopefully my portrayal does him justice.

Betrayal at Iga also gives readers the chance to meet the women who played an important role in Hiro’s life: his mother, his grandmother, and the woman who left the scars on Hiro’s shoulder and inner thigh.

Erin: Speaking of future books, and without giving too much away, what are your plans for the series? I’m excited to find out what we might be looking forward to…

Susan: At the end of The Ninja’s Daughter, Hiro and Father Mateo head into the mountains east of Kyoto to visit Hiro’s ninja clan. As expected, things don’t go entirely smoothly in Iga, and the end of book 5 will find them once again on the road, with a mission to complete. Each of the next five books in the series will take them to a new location, giving me (and readers) a chance to explore some fun new settings before the series returns to Kyoto.

Erin: You’re busy being active, practicing law, and raising your seahorses and marine life, not to mention you have a family you must assist. Plus you teach writers at various retreats and seminars around the country. You’re a woman I highly admire. How do you become so disciplined to do it all?

Susan: I’m a big believer in lists and schedules. Normally, I practice law in the mornings and write in the afternoons, except on Tuesdays, when I mentor a local high school student in the morning (and, as usual, write in the afternoon). Weekend days are writing days, too.

It helps that I have a wonderful husband who became a stay-home dad when our son was eight. Now that our son is a senior in college, my husband works mostly as “mission control,” taking care of the house and the seahorses when I’m out of town. He’s trained as an artist, and used to work in the video game industry, so he understands and supports my writing completely. I’m very blessed to have him in my life.

Erin: I think I ask you something similar every time, but will you have any settings in an aquarium or featuring marine life? I can only picture you taking them there at some point after viewing your daily home aquarium updates. Considering? (hint hint)

Susan: The closest I’ve been able to get so far is fugu (pufferfish) poisoning, which will play a role in a future book. Sadly, the fish doesn’t make it. (Is that a spoiler?) I do love my seahorses and my reef, and would love to find some way to include that passion in my writing. Don’t give up hope—I might find a way to make it happen!

Erin: Do you have plans to write additional books beyond the Shinobi mystery series? If you could, what or who would you write about?

Susan: I actually do have a new project in the works, which my agent and I are extremely excited about. I can’t say anything more than that quite yet, but I can tell you that this autumn’s research trip to Japan is not only for the next few books in the Shinobi series. I’m researching another project there as well.

Erin: What else do you have planned for this year that excites you? I know you will be heading to Japan once again, and this time, to teach!

Susan: Yes! I’m thrilled to be presenting two workshops at the 9th annual Japan Writers’ Conference (http://www.japanwritersconference.org) in Tokushima on October 28 & 29. After that, I’m staying in Japan for another two weeks’ worth of research—at the height of foliage season!

Before I head to Japan, I’m teaching at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Conference September 9-11, and also attending and speaking on the Historical Mystery panel at Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention) in New Orleans, September 15-18. It’s going to be an exciting autumn!

Erin: Thank you so much, Susan, for stopping by for sake, jello, and book talk! I look forward more books from your in the future and our continued friendship. I can’t wait to hear all about your fall trip!

Susan:  Thank you so, so much for inviting me, Erin! It’s always wonderful to talk with you, and I look forward to sharing photos from my trip online, both while I’m there and after I return!

The Ninja’s Daughter: A Hiro Hattori Novel by Susan Spann

Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Seventh Street Books
eBook & Paperback; 230 Pages

Series: Hiro Hattori Novels/Shinobi Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery

Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

In The Ninja’s Daughter, Susan Spann’s poetic voice brilliantly captures the societal disparities, political intrigues, and martial conflicts of sixteenth-century Japan through the persevering efforts of ninja detective Hiro Hattori to solve a murder authorities consider of no consequence.” -JEFFREY SIGER, International Bestselling Author

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About the Author

For more information please visit Susan Spann’s website. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Susan Spann is the author of three previous novels in the Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master.

She has a degree in Asian Studies and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. When not writing, she works as a transactional attorney focusing on publishing and business law, and raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium.

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The Shogun’s Daughter is Interesting Mystery Set in 18th Century Japan

The Shogun's DaughterThe Shogun’s Daughter is #17 in a historical mystery series taking place in ancient Japan. That’s right, #17! However, the good thing is that this particular novel can be read as a stand-alone as it has its own plot, so I am assuming the rest do as well.  They do have samurai detective Sano Ichiro in common, as well as some other characters. As I write this review, I think it’s important to point out that I have not read the other books in the series as I have just been made aware of Laura Joh Rowland’s work.

Detective Sano Ichiro doesn’t waste much time when interviewing or cutting the chase with anyone he is interviewing. This time, he takes on Yanagisawa, the shogun’s advisor who was also married to the shogun’s daughter. At the beginning of the book, this daughter passes away from smallpox (an unlikely disease for royalty, even at the time,which is why Sano is curious).  The adopted son of Yanagisawa, a seventeen year old named Yoshisato, is named the shogun’s heir after it is announced that he is the shogun’s long-lost son.

The book is an adventure into feudal Japan in 1704, yet the way that Rowland writes the mystery is seems more light-hearted even if the topic wasn’t or the people weren’t. The only way I can explain it is to say that it reminds of me of those older international Asian movies that were mysteries but seeped in something that just made you find it interesting to watch with all their quirks and idiosyncracies.

Sano takes on a dangerous mystery, but he isn’t your normal detective investigating the stereotypical players. These players are driven by politics, dictatorship, and family drama and this leads him down a road where even his family is not safe. Eventually, the tables are even turned this time.

Rowland has a niche with her historical mysteries as I haven’t seen too many Asian-oriented mysteries published in the U.S. I’d be interested in going back and reading some of her back list to find out how it all started. She’s been writing for many years and has created her own style that is authentic to Asian storytelling.  The detective is original and honest and brings something creative to a world seeped in mystery detectives. He’s memorable. With her other characters, she seems to have really captured the original oriental style and personalities, unlike other mainstream novelists who might write about another time and place.

Her character of Hirata, who Sano has had a longtime friendship with and I presume has been in other books, was a good sub-supporting choice. I liked how she incorporated the mystic martial arts (some of my fave movies have this theme) into the book and plot through him and his side pursuits.  I also enjoyed the relationship between nine-year-old Taeko and Masahiro, Sano’s 12-year-old son.  I hope to read more stories of those two in the future!  And without giving spoilers, the distress in the relationship between Yoshisato and Yanagisawa really tugged at my heart-strings. I felt so awful for Yoshisato and was again reminded, as I often am in books, why issues with people in life should always try to be resolved before something unthinkable happens and resolution is a fleeting moment of the past.  Yet the ending had a twist and I didn’t see it coming! She did a good job with the element of surprise as it sneaked up on me, even when I should have known better!

I had a few hiccups with her writing style that I want to point out, not to fault Rowland or her books, but just because I think they would be so obvious to readers that I must give some pre-notice to them even if I hate to do so. Her writing style can, in sections, be simplistic and narrow, without depth of details. Her writing isn’t lush and visual, but more clean and tight. Seeing how she was a scientist of all kinds for many years of her life, I can possibly understand where that comes from within her writing style. Not everyone writes the same and I can appreciate that, and I know she’s been published a long time, but I am not sure why there are some issues with getting present and past tense correct and consistent. Also, it seemed odd the way she constructed people’s thoughts from their head onto the page. Instead of us just hearing their private thoughts from their head, she announced they couldn’t say it out loud.  I did think that they seemed to be more ironed out by the second half of the book, though.  Her sentences are short, to the point, and sometimes there is too much repetition for my taste, even as a fast reader. Also, she is brash in her sentences due to the utilization of colons.

However, for those readers who like an entertaining mystery read who haven’t read any of Rowland’s books, this would be a great book to grab and spend a day reading! I did really get into the second half of the book and formed some emotional connections to the characters.

The Shogun’s Daughter was a unique mystery embroiled in drama and intrigue of feudal Japan, with an original and memorable samurai investigator and his cast of family and friends. I haven’t read many mysteries set in Asian culture or history, so it was an exciting new venture. It wasn’t a thriller with lots of decoding or fast-moving action, but it is a great detective mystery wrapped in the political intrigue and drama of past Japanese culture. I enjoyed how she took a true story from Japanese history and formed her own story based on a “what if” scenario. After reading the ending, I am sure there is another book coming featuring Hirata and his adventures.  I look forward to it!

Watch for my interview with Laura Joh Rowland coming to the blog on September 25!

THE SHOGUN’S DAUGHTER, Synopsis~

The Shogun's DaughterPublication Date: September 17, 2013
Minotaur Books
Hardcover; 336p
ISBN-10: 1250028612

Japan, 1704. In an elegant mansion a young woman named Tsuruhime lies on her deathbed, attended by her nurse. Smallpox pustules cover her face. Incense burns, to banish the evil spirits of disease. After Tsuruhime takes her last breath, the old woman watching from the doorway says, “Who’s going to tell the Shogun his daughter is dead?”

The death of the Shogun’s daughter has immediate consequences on his regime. There will be no grandchild to leave the kingdom. Faced with his own mortality and beset by troubles caused by the recent earthquake, he names as his heir Yoshisato, the seventeen-year-old son he only recently discovered was his. Until five months ago, Yoshisato was raised as the illegitimate son of Yanagisawa, the shogun’s favorite advisor. Yanagisawa is also the longtime enemy of Sano Ichiro.

Sano doubts that Yoshisato is really the Shogun’s son, believing it’s more likely a power-play by Yanagisawa. When Sano learns that Tsuruhime’s death may have been a murder, he sets off on a dangerous investigation that leads to more death and destruction as he struggles to keep his pregnant wife, Reiko, and his son safe. Instead, he and his family become the accused. And this time, they may not survive the day.

Laura Joh Rowland’s thrilling series set in Feudal Japan is as gripping and entertaining as ever.

Praise for Laura Joh Rowland~

Author of The Fire Kimono, “one of the five best historical mystery novels”—The Wall Street Journal

“Rowland has a painter’s eye for the minutiae of court life, as well as a politician’s ear for intrigue.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Sano may carry a sword and wear a kimono, but you’ll immediately recognize him as an ancestor of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade.”—The Denver Post

Author Laura Joh Rowland, Biography~

Laura Joh RowlandLaura Joh Rowland is the author of a mystery series set in medieval Japan, featuring samurai detective Sano Ichiro. The Shogun’s Daughter is the seventeenth book in the series.

Her work has been published in 13 foreign countries, nominated for the Anthony Award and the Hammett Prize, and won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Mystery. Laura lives in New York City.

For more information please visit Laura’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook.

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Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theshogunsdaughtertour
Twitter Hashtag: #ShogunsDaughterTour

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