cover image Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery

Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery

Susan Spann. Minotaur, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-02706-1

Spann does a good job recreating 1565 Japan in her otherwise so-so third mystery featuring Fr. Mateo Ávila de Santos and his ninja bodyguard, Hattori Hiro (after 2014’s Blade of the Samurai). One morning in Kyoto, Mateo and Hiro are ordering breakfast from a noodle vendor when they hear cries from a brewery down the street. The police have arrested a brewer, Ginjori, for murder, while Suke, a monk, yells that he’s the real killer. The victim, Chikao, was also a brewer, until someone used a sake flask to bash his head in. Hiro, who owes Ginjori a favor, displays expertise in analyzing blood-splatter patterns that equals any shown on TV’s CSI franchise. Mateo questions the integrity of the official inquiry, and the pair manages to get a delay in Ginjori’s trial so they can ascertain the truth. Close attention to period detail makes up in part for the underdeveloped leads and a less than gripping plot. [em]Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency. (July) [/em]