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The Ninja's Daughter

by Susan Spann

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Shinobi Mystery (4)

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354567,726 (3.65)2
"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"--… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Original review appears on my blog, Musings of a Bookish Kitty for a TLC Tour. Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review:
http://www.literaryfeline.com/2016/08/bookish-thoughts-ninjas-daughter-by.html

The Ninja's Daughter (Shinobi Mystery #4) by Susan Spann
Seventh Street Books, 2016
Crime Fiction (Historical), 230 pgs

The year is 1565, and the political wind in Kyoto is shifting after the recent death of the shogun. Tensions are high and a possible war is on the horizon. An apprentice to a local merchant arrives on the Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo's doorstep early one morning much to Hiro Hattori's chagrin. A girl has been murdered on the banks of the Kamo River. Hiro, a shinobi (ninja) charged with protecting the foreign priest, disguised as a ronin (masterless samurai), takes his job very seriously, and so when Father Mateo decides he will look into the matter despite Hiro's reservations, Hiro knows he must go along. Soon, both men have reasons to start their own investigation, even as they face the wrath of a corrupt Kyoto police force intent on halting the investigation.

The Ninja's Daughter is my first novel by Susan Spann, but it certainly won't be my last. Although fourth in the series, The Ninja's Daughter stands well on its own as a mystery. I admit I am very curious as to how Father Mateo and Hiro's relationship came about and about their previous adventures together. Both are such intriguing characters from Hiro's loyalty and strong sense of justice to Father Mateo's thoughtfulness and caring ways. I also grew quite fond of Ana, the housekeeper, and, of course, Gato, Hiro's cat. I would like to have spent more time getting to know Ana as well as Luis, the Portuguese merchant living with Hiro and Father Mateo--but perhaps I will in earlier books.

Author Susan Spann does not waste words in her novel. This isn't a novel you will find full of description nor much set-up in terms of the setting and time period, and yet, she skillfully creates an image of the time and place the book is set in as well that of her characters. The hierarchy and roles of people and castes, particularly that of the acting guilds, is explained so naturally. It helps too that the priest is a foreigner, new to such ways just as many of us readers might be. I felt like I was right there in the pages of the novel. You get a real sense for who the characters are, and I really appreciated that about this novel.

The Ninja's Daughter is a traditional mystery in many ways, with the protagonists asking questions and putting together the clues they find in hopes of finding out who did what. The deeper they dig, the more they uncover, including that almost everyone seems to be keeping secrets. There is some action, but it is a relatively quiet novel, with some tense moments. Even so, this is a quick read, and it was hard to set the book aside when I was forced to. It's quite a compelling read, and if you are a mystery reader who enjoys historical mysteries, I highly recommend this one.
( )
  LiteraryFeline | Nov 25, 2017 |
Ronin (unattached samurai) Hiro Hattori protects Portuguese missionary priest Father Matteo. He is also a secret ninja, which comes in handy for solving mysteries, which he and the priest do frequently. IN this edition Hiro and Matteo have been asked to investigate the death of an actor's daughter. It turns out that the actor is a secret ninja too, so Hiro is pulled into the world of actors and the theater. The authorities are strongly opposed to Hiro's interference. Meanwhile, Kyoto is under threat of attack from an outside warlord.

The history in this book is very well done. Spann recreates the world of sixteenth-century Kyoto brilliantly. She recreates the code of ethics of early modern Japan and the early modern samurai. I was particularly intrigued by the culture of the theater. Overall, this was a really interesting mystery, and I'd definitely read more in the series. ( )
  lahochstetler | Mar 14, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this book and still need to read the first two in the series to find out how these two protagonists met and start their relationship. I learn a bit about 16th century Japanese culture from these books and I find that almost as fascinating as the story itself. I recommend these to mystery lovers!

This story starts with an early morning call by an apprentice merchant Father Mateo met during the last book. The boy was in a fright, he had gotten drunk the night before and when he woke up on the river bank the girl he was infatuated with was laying dead on the bank next to him, strangled. At first he thought he must have done the job, not remembering because of too much Saki, but after calming down and talking with the Father, he realized that wasn’t likely. When Hiro, Mateo and the boy went to the river to begin an investigation, they found the authorities already found the body and identifying her as an actor class, dismissed the case as not a murder. While this let the boy off with the hook whether he did it nor not, the injustice made Father Mateo plan to investigate anyway.

Hiro was trying to dissuade Mateo from investigating, especially since he was warned off by the police, when the father of the girl came to collect the body. Who turns out to be Hiro’s uncle (also a Shinobi) disguised as an actor. This obligates Hiro to look into the murder as well.

What follows is a sad story made convoluted and difficult by an unknown Samurai extorting those who can’t retaliate and over zealous police officers wanting to arrest Father Mateo and Hiro for not following the orders of the magistrate.

Things are also heating up in Kyoto, as the power struggle to replace the fallen Shogun, the one currently holding the title claimed it under suspicious circumstances and the relatives want it back. This also makes it dangerous for the Jesuits living there as well! ( )
  readafew | Aug 3, 2016 |
An enjoyable mystery, one of a series, set in medieval Japan about a translator and special protector of a Portuguese Jesuit priest who helps him solve crimes.

Susan Spann is an American author with a deep love and appreciation of Japanese history and culture. Medieval Japan is the setting of her mystery series featuring Hattori Hiro. With her deep knowledge of the era, she immerses her readers in life and traditions of Kyoto at a time samurai were fighting for control of the city. She writes well, giving us lots of historical details without slowing down the building tension of her plot.

Hattori Hiro is a Japanese shinobi, or ninja, who is assigned to protect a Roman Catholic priest from Portugal. Posing as a translator, Hiro uses his special training and clan vows and, along with the priest, sorts out complex crimes that occur in their city.

When a young woman is found dead, the police refuse to investigate or consider her murdered because she belongs to a family of actors who are not valuable enough for them to care. They also forbid Hiro and the priest to investigate. The demands of the police do not slow Hiro and Father Mateo down, especially when they discover that the woman is the daughter of another shinobi. Numerous suspects complicate the mystery and widen the story’s picture of Japanese life. The mystery is complex enough to keep readers focused on the plot at the same time it reveals the personalities of the characters.

Writers and reviewers often complain that historical novels should reflect the degrading sexism of another time and place. Spann offers an example of of how an author writing about a time when stereotyping was thought to be acceptable can avoid supporting such attitudes today. She allows some of her characters to express demeaning remarks about both actors and women generally that would have been typical of the time and place of her novel. Wisely, she balances such remarks with negative portrayal of the characters expressing them and with more positive, inclusive comments by the priest and other outsiders.

I love good mysteries, like this one, that are set in communities which stretch our cultural boundaries. The Ninja’s Daughter is Spann’s fourth mystery about Hiro. I look forward to finding the previous ones in the series. Here and there references to the previous novels left me confused. I would have enjoyed the book more if I had found the list of characters and the glossary of Japanese words printed at the end before I started the book.

I gladly recommend Spann’s Japanese mysteries to all those who like diversity embedded in plot.

Thanks to Seventh Street Press and Eidelwiess for sending me a digital copy of this book to review.

Other examples of this kind of mystery include Mala Nunn’s novels set in South Africa and Attica Locke’s stories about African Americans in Louisiana. See my blog for reviews. ( )
  mdbrady | May 18, 2016 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Spannprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sommer-Lecht, NicoleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Sandra. Thank you for believing, both in Hiro and in me.
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Knocking echoed through the silent house.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"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"--

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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. [retrieved 8/11/2016 from Amazon.com]
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