The Ninja’s Daughter Synopsis :
An Hiro Hattori Novel/Shinobi 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.
(Seventh Street Books, eBook & Paperback 230 Pages)
After enjoying The Blade of the Samurai (Book 2), and hosting a very interesting post from the author about Goshikimai: the Ninjas’ Coded Rice for Book 3’s release, I’d been looking forward to reading this 4th title in Susan Spann’s Shinobi Mystery Series, The Ninja’s Daughter.
A character confessing to ‘perhaps’ killing a woman is not your typical start to a murder-mystery novel, but it is hardly a surprising development in the context of this intriguing series. While Spann skilfully weaves a complex web of deceit that proves challenging for Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo to unravel, it is once again the pair’s relationship and the increasing unrest within Kyoto that I found most compelling.
The rigid hierarchical constraints and customs of 16th century Japanese society are ever present, and while outwardly reserved, Hiro’s often ironic internal narrative makes for entertaining reading.
“No, thank you,” Jiro said. “I couldn’t impose upon your kindness.” Just our sleep and safety, Hiro thought.
The charming argumentative banter between the kind-hearted Portuguese Mateo and Hiro Hattori (Shinobi protector masquerading as his translator) comes from a place of deep-seated respect and loyalty. I was also delighted to see ‘quietly feisty’ housemaid Ana (a personal favourite in the ensemble cast) get her moment to shine in this novel. And without giving too much away, am looking forward to her possibly playing a more significant role in subsequent Shinobi series adventures.
Once again, Spann’s use of a relatively straight forward story-telling framework and writing style acts as a counterweight to the intricacies of the Japanese terminology and cultural context. This, along with her well developed, endearing character ensemble make The Ninja’s Daughter another highly accessible and entertaining historical mystery.
UPDATE: Book 5 in the Hiro Hattori Shinobi Mystery Series, Betrayal at Iga released July 2017.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Crime-Detective
About the Author, Susan Spann
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.
Other reviews of The Ninja’s Daughter : See other book reviewers hosting this Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour, including Lampshade Reader, The Reader’s Hollow, Reading the Past, and Kirkus Reviews, Internet Review of Books.
* My receiving a copy of The Ninja’s Daughter from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.