cover image Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel

Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel

Susan Spann. Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-63388-277-5

Spann keeps getting better, as shown by her fifth novel set in 16th-century Japan (after 2016’s The Ninja’s Daughter), a taut closed-circle mystery with perilous consequences if a murder goes unsolved. Father Mateo, a Portuguese priest who has been working in Kyoto, accompanies Hattori Hiro, the ninja who guards him, to Iga province, the home of Hiro’s cousin and the family’s clan leader, Hattori Hanzo. The clan is to begin negotiations with a rival group, the Koga clan, regarding an alliance to counter the ambitions of Oda Nobunaga, a samurai warlord who is scheming to become shogun. But the diplomacy goes horribly wrong when Koga Yajiro, the leader of his delegation, drops dead of poison at the welcome banquet. Desperate to avoid further violence and to preserve the possibility of a treaty, Hanzo directs Hiro and Mateo to investigate, a task complicated by Hiro’s relationship with multiple suspects. While the characters could be more developed, fans of classic whodunits will be pleased. Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency. (July)