Jul 26, 2016

Book Review: The Ninja's Daughter by Susan Spann

The 16th century Japan setting by Susan Spann makes the Hiro Hattori novels a unique historical mystery series.  This is the fourth in the series.
The Ninja's Daughter: A Hiro Hattori  Novel by Susan Spann, to be published August 2, 2016 by Seventh Street Books
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. This is the fourth in the historical mystery series set in Japan. (publisher)

The characters and setting are intriguing. Hiro is a shinobi or ninja who is tasked with protecting the life of Portuguese Jesuit, Father Mateo, while the priest is living in Japan. Hiro poses as a translator and interpreter for Mateo, and is seen by the shogun's officers as a ronin, or a samurai without a master.  Father Mateo likes to dabble in crime solving while ministering to the Christians in the region, and helps Hiro in his detecting. 

The relationship between the priest and the shinobi brings the novel and the times to life, showing the differences between East and West during this period. Hiro has to constantly remind Mateo about what he can or cannot do or say in order to stay safe from the shogun's officers and not to create offense to the people. Mateo brings more sympathy and understanding of the characters they encounter. Together they solve the crime and help bring a criminal to light.

The plot and the action in The Ninja's Daughter reveal much about Japanese traditional culture and customs of the time. The two sleuths have to understand motivation and circumstance in order to find the real murderer of the actor's daughter found dead on the banks of the river. There are many suspects and the most obvious one is not necessarily the right one. 

Beginning paragraphs, chapter 1:

Knocking echoed through the silent house.
Hattori Hiro sat up in the darkness and pushed his quilt aside. His cat, Gato, tumbled to the floor. She mewed in protest.
Careful footsteps passed the door to Hiro's room. He recognized the pace of Ana, the housekeeper who cooked and cleaned for the Portuguese priest whose home they shared. Her rapid response told Hiro sunrise must be close at hand. Only a person already awake and dressed would reach the door so quickly. 

Suspects: The actor, Satsu, the father of the dead girl, is a suspect in this murder that is brought to Hiro's attention. The girl Emi had a thirst for freedom and wanted to live life on her own terms, to open her own teahouse and not marry as her family wished. Her actions might bring shame to the actor, who relies on his and his family's good reputation to advance in his career. 

The boy Emi was supposed to marry is also a suspect, as is her brother-in-law, the husband of her older sister. The solving of the mystery comes after much deliberation and snooping by Hiro and Mateo, who put their lives on the line while trying to avoid the Shogun's police and officers. 

Recommendation: This is another excellent, atmospheric mystery novel with enough twists and turns and suspense to kept me very interested. The characters are realistic, individualistic, and very likeable and I look forward to reading more about them in future books in the series.

About the author:
Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Thanks to the author/publisher and TLC Book Tours for an ARC of this book for review. For other reviews of The Ninja's Daughter, visit the tour schedule

Meme: Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading 


  1. Oh, love the sound of this one! Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: “CONFESS”

  2. I really like the time period ... This is a new to me series

  3. I do like the intro. It sounds like I book I would listen to in order to get the pronunciation of names correct.

  4. I love historical mysteries but I know I 've never read one that takes place in Japan. This sounds really fantastic and like a series I shouldn't miss!

  5. I like the intro and hadn't heard of this one. enjoy

  6. Not sure about this, but I do like the cover.

  7. I've read other books set in this era (like the Shogun series) and I've always wanted to get back to it and read more stories from this time period. It was such a fascinating time!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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