cover image The Ninja’s Daughter: A Hiro Hattori Mystery

The Ninja’s Daughter: A Hiro Hattori Mystery

Susan Spann. Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-63388-181-5

At the start of Spann’s fine fourth whodunit set in 16th-century Japan (after 2015’s Flask of the Drunken Master), Fr. Mateo Ávila de Santos, a Portuguese priest who has been living in Kyoto, and Hattori Hiro, a ninja spy and assassin who was hired anonymously to protect Mateo, are roused in the middle of the night by Jiro, a merchant’s apprentice. Jiro fears that he’s responsible for the strangulation murder of Emi, a teahouse girl, with whom he was sitting by the Kamo River when he passed out. When he woke up, she was dead. Emi’s status as an actor’s child makes her, in the eyes of the law, a nonperson whose death doesn’t call for any investigation. Mateo and Hiro’s inquiry plays out against political turmoil at the highest levels after the alleged suicide of the former shogun. While not at the level of the best of Laura Joh Rowland’s series set in Japan a century later, this entry is an improvement over Spann’s earlier installments. [em]Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency. (Aug.) [/em]