Jul 4, 2018

Trial at Mount Koya by Susan Spann: Book Review

Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann continues the travels of Hiro Hattori, a samurai and Shinobi assassin who is the bodyguard for Portuguese Jesuit priest, Fr. Mateo in Japan. The historical novel is set in 1565 in Japan,

Samurai spy and assassin, Hiro Hattori, accompanied by Fr. Mateo, travel to a Buddhist temple on Mount Koya, to warn another samurai spy from his clan of future danger and to send him to alert other samurai in their group.

Hiro and Fr. Mateo and the spy become trapped at the temple by horrendous snow storms. When sudden murder follows upon murder, Hiro fears for the life of Fr. Mateo and is determined to protect the priest from the unknown killer. The author says the murder situation, with an isolated setting, was inspired by one of Agatha Christie's well known novels.

The mystery gets the reader involved in the world of samurai codes of conduct and behavior, Buddhist principles and their similarities and differences with Christian beliefs, Buddhist temples and their priests and ceremonies of those days. One of the customs that stand out is the attitudes towards women, who were barred from entering the grounds of certain temples and holy places.

Follow Susan Spann on Facebook as she climbs Japan's mountains and tells about the mountain temples she is barred from entering, even today.

I was intrigued not only by Buddhist doctrine in Hiro's day, and the discussion of Fr. Mateo with Mount Koya priests, but also by the samurai codes and conduct that seem very real and plausible for those historical times.

The well planned plot of the book, the identity of the culprit is almost impossible to guess, plus well developed characters and good writing, come together for  a very enjoyable and enlightening mystery novel. I'm looking forward to the next of Hiro's adventures.

For more reviews on this tour, see the review schedule. Also see the author's guest post on visiting the temples for her book. 

Susan's Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

Book beginning:
"I question your judgement, Hiro." Father Mateo looked at the sky, which should have burned with the fiery colors of a mountain sunset.  
Instead, a menacing wall of greenish thunderclouds churned overhead. 
"We can beat the storm to the temple." Hiro Hattori increased his pace and tried to ignore the angry meow that arose from the basket in his arms. 
 "That's not what I meant and you know it."
Meme: visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader 


  1. This book sounds wonderful. I am always interested in the titles you highlight. My quotes from The Virgin Suicides

  2. I'm looking forward to reading this series! Thanks for being on the tour.


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