cover image Trial on Mount Koya: A Hiro Hattori Novel

Trial on Mount Koya: A Hiro Hattori Novel

Susan Spann. Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-63388-415-1

Spann cleverly riffs on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in her sixth novel set in 16th-century Japan (after 2017’s Betrayal at Iga). Hiro Hattori, a ninja assassin “hired by an unknown benefactor” to guard a Portuguese Catholic priest, journeys with his charge, Fr. Mateo Ávila de Santos, to the remote Buddhist temple of Myo-in at the summit of Mount Koya to deliver an important message to Ringa, a spy for Hiro’s clan, the Iga. Ringa winds up murdered, his body posed such that it appears he was wearing a crown of flame and was clutching a sword in one hand and a rope in the other. The setup is intended to make the dead man resemble the god Fudo Myo-o. More residents of Myo-in die in bizarre ways before Hiro and Mateo uncover the surprising truth behind the killings. Spann has never been better at balancing mystery with the politics of the era, and this improvement signals a brighter future for the series. Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency. (July)