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Blade of the Samurai: A Shinobi Mystery (Shinobi Mysteries) Hardcover – July 15, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Shinobi Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The second Hiro Hattori mystery (after 2013’s Claws of the Cat) finds the sixteenth-century ninja—and unofficial investigator—presented with an interesting problem. A fellow ninja, Kazu, believes he’s about to be accused of killing the shogun’s cousin, but Hiro finds it difficult to prove the man’s innocence when Kazu won’t answer the simplest of questions, such as where he was when the victim was murdered. Hiro and Father Mateo, the visiting Jesuit priest who fills the role of sidekick (the series’ premise being Hiro is Mateo’s appointed ninja protector, which makes an excellent cover for Hiro to investigate crimes), work their way through a long list of suspects to find the real killer before Kazu’s fate is sealed. There are already a couple of good mystery series set in feudal-era Japan, one at the beginning of the historical period and the other at the end; this one’s set in between, meaning the been-there-done-that factor is reduced to background noise. A strong second entry in a very promising series. --David Pitt

Review

“An outstanding historical mystery set in Japan during the shogunate…What adds to the enjoyment of the history is a most elegant mystery that grows out of the politics of the time… All this is told in stripped down prose as we edge carefully through the thickets of confusion and emerge on to the plain of revelation as the killer is unmasked and uncertainty over the threat to the shogun is resolved. ” ―San Francisco Book Review

“The second Hiro Hattori mystery (after 2013's Claws of the Cat) finds the sixteenth-century ninja--and unofficial investigator--presented with an interesting problem…A strong second entry in a very promising series.” ―Booklist

“Hiro and Father Mateo's second adventure (Claws of the Cat, 2013) combines enlightenment on 16th-century Japanese life with a sharp and well-integrated mystery.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“After her exciting historical mystery debut, Claws of the Cat, Spann proves she has the touch in her sophomore entry. The deceptively simple prose educates readers about 16th-century Japan, while the well-plotted story moves at ninja speed. The endearing characters fight to defend honor and truth, giving this strong YA appeal.” ―Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Series: Shinobi Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250027055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250027054
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
The second installment of Ms Spann's SHINOBI MYSTERY SERIES gives us a lovely, intricate glimpse into the enigmatic world of sixteenth-century Japanese politics. At a time in which honor means more than life, Shinobi (Ninja) Protector, HIRO HATTORI and his sidekick, the Jesuit priest Father Matteo, are once again thrust into a murder investigation, this time for even higher stakes.

Ms. Spann's spare, elegant prose flows off the page. Her descriptions of Kyoto and the Shogunate in the fifteen hundreds, are so believable, you'll swear you can smell the lotus blossoms. The best part about BLADE is the deepening friendship between the ninja, and his charge, Father Matteo, that grows ever stronger with each installment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Susan Spann has done it again with the second book in her Shinobi Mystery series. While I very much enjoyed Claws of the Cat, Blade is even better. Hiro and Father Mateo have grown as characters--not modern day men masquerading as ancient Japanese, as happens in so many historical books--but genuine, well rounded characters moving through a flawlessly recreated medieval Japanese world. Some new and colorful characters show up, as well-- Kazu and Suke the drunk are fabulous. The mystery is neatly plotted and kept me guessing to the end. Highly recommend, and can't wait for the next one.
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Format: Hardcover
Hiro Hattori is a Shinobi, a member of a secret samurai assassin clan hired to protect Portugese priest Father Mateo in sixteenth century Japan. When Hiro hears someone sneaking into their home late one night, he prepares to pounce, only to discover it is fellow Shinobi Kazu panicking as his boss at the shogunate (and cousin to the shogun) has been murdered.

Hiro hides Kazu before urging him to flee Kyoto. The next morning, he is awakened by a messenger summoning both him and Father Mateo to the shogunate to investigate the murder. On the face of it, they are called in because the shogun has heard of their discreet success in an investigation the previous year, but truly - with Kazu having no family and Hiro a known friend - Hiro is being set up to take the retribution for the murder if Kazu isn't found.

The view into the culture of Japan and the strictures it imposes are fascinating. That alone almost makes the book worth reading, but there is so much more to it. Though the book has some aspects that are somewhat formulaic, Hiro is a hero to root for, and Father Mateo is an moralistic Jesuit priest at his best.

As Lord Oda is coming to Kyoto with apparent designs on the shogunate, Hiro and Father Mateo have just three days to present the killer. With plenty of intrigue and additional plots in play, the book keeps moving. It is another of those where I promise that I'm just going to finish the chapter then put it down, only to find myself starting another chapter to see what happens next.

Kazu was unable to leave Kyoto, but he refuses to assist Hiro in answering the simple question of where he was on the night of the murder - and why his dagger was left on his desk and use to kill his superior.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition
I kind of jumped at the chance to read and review "Blade of the Samurai". I grew up with a crush on Richard Chamberlain in the mini-series of James Clavell's "Shogun" on tv. I even remember a half-dozen or so words in Japanese from watching the drama.

With all the character names and Japanese terms in the book, it could have been easy to get somewhat lost, but Ms. Spann does a good job of making it clear what the terms mean so her readers can become involved with the story itself.

Some might find it harsh that, after being 'hired' (in a sense) to find a murderer, if Hiro and Father Mateo cannot solve the murder in a couple of days, they will be killed in his (or her) place and face will be saved. Of course, when you live in a military society where might makes right (not a judgment-just a statement), and you never know what another family will do to oust those in power to advance their own status...there is little or no room for error.

There are many twists, turns and intricacies in the plot of "Blade of the Samurai". It's like being presented with a complex piece of origami and trying to figure out how to make it yourself by reverse engineering. Each new fold uncovers a hidden gem, a piece of the larger puzzle. Each time I thought, "Aha, that is the murderer," some new piece of evidence would pop up. It made me want to keep reading until I found out who actually committed the crime.

"Blade of the Samurai" is a well-researched novel that shows despite a 500 year distance, people are people. The characters have hopes, dreams, aspirations, jealousies, obstacles much like we do today.

(Disclosure: I received a copy of "Blade of the Samurai" from the author and publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this second installment in the Shinobi Mystery series, Matsui Hiro and Father Mateo return to try and find the killer of one of the shogun’s chief samurai. Set inside the shogun’s mansion and grounds, the story features murder, political intrigue, and romance within another mental trip to medieval Japan for the reader. This book is just as entertaining and interesting as the first in the series and once again, we get an authentic glimpse into the life and culture of 16th century Japan.

My only disappointment with this series is that the next isn’t due out until 2015, of course. I highly recommend this to historical mystery fans especially those that have enjoyed the Sano Ichiro series by Laura Joh Rowland.
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