The Ninja’s Daughter: A Hiro Hattori Novel

Written by Susan Spann
Review by Susan McDuffie

In 16th-century Japan, the ninja Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo, the priest Hiro is assigned to protect, awake early one morning to learn of the death of a beautiful girl. The young woman has been strangled; the only clue is a golden coin hanging around her neck. It soon becomes apparent the woman was from a theatrical family. Authorities forbid further investigation, saying that a mere actress’s death is unimportant. But the girl’s father, Hiro’s own cousin, requests that they continue, and Hiro feels obligated to comply. Meanwhile the ruling shogun wants the Jesuit out of the city and threatens him with death. The theft of a valuable theatrical mask complicates the investigation as Hiro and Father Mateo race to solve the mystery and escape Kyoto with their lives.

Susan Spann’s fourth Shinobi mystery transports the reader to the world of the shogunate, traditional No drama, and the rigidly class-bound society of feudal Japan. Her writing moves along at a pleasant pace. Father Mateo makes a nice foil for Hiro, allowing us to experience this distant culture through the eyes of both a native and a foreigner. The unexpected resolution of the mystery hints at further adventures for Hiro and Father Mateo as they leave Kyoto behind them. Recommended.