Title: The Ninja’s Daughter (Shinobi Mystery #4)
Author: Susan Spann
Publication Date: Aug 2, 2016
I received an ARC from the publisher, Prometheus Books, for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
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.
What a thought-provoking look into Shogunate Japan! This story is intriguing not only because of the idea that murder would be acceptable just because of one’s low social status but all the intricacies of this society where words and gestures are never just that must be weighed carefully so as not to offend or insult. These rules of etiquette and the glaring societal inequalities coupled with a complex mixture of forbidden love, corruption and schemes all centered around this murder mystery of an actor’s daughter, made for a very absorbing and insightful read.
The main characters Hiro a master ninja and his master, the Portuguese Jesuit priest, father Matteo, have decided to investigate the murder against all warnings. Their investigation will reveal that although there are many suspects, it’s not so easy to pick the right one, since everyone seems only determined to impede their investigation for their own reasons. I was quite impressed by the importance placed on honor and the giving of one’s word in the case of Hiro.
The mystery itself was well written and satisfying. It was not immediately obvious who committed the murder and I thought the author did a really great job weaving this mystery. It seems like almost everyone had a really good motive for murder and also had the opportunity and means to commit it. I admire Hiro’s deductive process and abilities and loved seeing it in motion. I loved the contemporary tone of the novel which is sure to appeal to a wide range of readers.
Overall, The Ninja’s Daughter is an engrossing mystery with likeable, developed characters with enlightening glimpses of Japanese etiquette and societal imbalances in the Japanese Shogunate era. I read this without having read the previous books but I didn’t feel lost. I enjoyed it so much that I will reading the previous novels to see what else Hiro and Father Matteo have been up to. I highly recommend this novel for lovers of the historical mystery/mystery genre.