The fifth Hiro Hattori Novel in Susan Spann’s Shinobi Mystery Series.
Betrayal at Iga Synopsis :
Autumn, 1565: After fleeing Kyoto, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo take refuge with Hiro’s ninja clan in the mountains of Iga province. But when an ambassador from the rival Koga clan is murdered during peace negotiations, Hiro and Father Mateo must find the killer in time to prevent a war between the ninja clans.
With every suspect a trained assassin, and the evidence incriminating not only Hiro’s commander, the infamous ninja Hattori Hanzō, but also Hiro’s mother and his former lover, the detectives must struggle to find the truth in a village where deceit is a cultivated art. As tensions rise, the killer strikes again, and Hiro finds himself forced to choose between his family and his honor.
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I have a soft spot for Susan Spann’s Hiro Hattori Novels (Shinobi Mysteries). After enjoying The Blade of the Samurai (Book 2), hosting a very interesting post from the author about Goshikimai: the Ninjas’ Coded Rice for Book 3’s release and being entertained by The Ninja’s Daughter (Book 4), I was delighted to have an opportunity to read Betrayal at Iga (Book 5).
The mysterious and secluded forest setting of the mountain village in which Hiro Hattori grew up forms a wonderful stage for intrigue and deception. As Hiro battles with ghosts of the past and assassins in the present, we learn much more about the people and events that have shaped him. Of particular note are the several strong female characters that play integral roles in this story, including his mother, grandmother, childhood sweetheart and of course Ana:
He wondered whether the housekeeper minded sleeping so close to a corpse. Many women would, but Hiro doubted Ana cared for popular superstitions, and he pitied any ghost that tried to haunt her.
The problem of finding the murderer hiding in plain sight in a village of trained assassins, is further complicated by adherence to 16th century Japanese customs, clan hierarchy and conflicting loyalties as war looms on the horizon.
… Hiro folded his hands in his lap and gazed at the scroll in the tokonoma, wondering how long his cousin would once again tolerate his silence. As he waited, Hiro tried to decide what he hoped to achieve in the conversation, thoughts unfurling and straightening like the ferns that grew beneath the massive cedars.
As her hero travels the winding path to discovering the killers identity, Spann also reveals the emotion that lies beneath Hiro’s reserved facade and the value he places on his friendship with Father Mateo. Fans of Japanese cuisine will enjoy the many descriptions of meal and tea preparation.
Betrayal at Iga is Spann’s most moving and compelling novel yet. I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead for Hiro, Father Mateo, Ana the housekeeper and Gato the cat.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Historical, Drama
About the Author, Susan Spann
Susan Spann’s first novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013) was a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month and a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel. Her fifth Hiro Hattori Novel, BETRAYAL AT IGA (Seventh Street Books) was published in July 2017.
When not writing or practicing law, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, World of Warcraft, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium. She lives outside Sacramento with her husband, two cats, a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures, and a highly opinionated cockatiel.
Susan was the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year and is a former president of the Northern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Association. She is represented by Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.
* My receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.