cover image Ghost of the Bamboo Road: A Hiro Hattori Mystery

Ghost of the Bamboo Road: A Hiro Hattori Mystery

Susan Spann. Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-63388-550-9

In Spann’s atmospheric, meticulously researched seventh mystery set in 16th-century Japan (after 2018’s Trial on Mount Koya), master ninja Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit friend, Fr. Mateo Ávila de Santos, set out with the priest’s irascible housekeeper for a desolate mountain village on a mission to find a female ninja and warn her that she’s in danger. Stopping at an inn for the night, they find themselves immersed in a family drama. It’s the anniversary of the death of Riko, the innkeeper Noboru’s sister, and Ishiko, their mother, is on her way to leave an offering at Riko’s grave. In the morning, Ishiko is found dead, and the villagers are convinced that Riko’s ghost, who has been blamed for other deaths, is the culprit. “Vengeful spirits did not kill this woman,” Hiro says. “She was strangled.” His investigations immerse readers in Japanese culture and history, greatly enhancing the nicely plotted mystery. Spann also slips in and swiftly defines Japanese words without breaking the narrative flow. Historical mystery fans will be well satisfied. Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency. (Nov.)