#PubDay Book Review | “The Ninja’s Daughter” (Book No.4 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann (previously the Shinobi Mysteries)

Posted Tuesday, 2 August, 2016 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Ninja’s Daughter” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I love reading the Hiro Hattori novels:

(previously known as the Shinobi Mysteries)

Spann has a way of integrating cultural references into the undercurrent of her narrative, giving the experience of soaking into her suspenseful mystery series a pure delight to any reader who likes to learn about cultures outside of their own.

She has an intricate knowledge to share about weaponry giving a light on the tools of the trade for the Shinobi. There is a clever balance between Japanese spirituality, Zen Buddhism, Christianity, and a few others in-between all three. I love writers who find a way to etch a spiritual presence as part of the make-up of a character’s mind.

(excerpt from my review from Claws of the Cat)

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts! Today I am celebrating the #PubDay #bookbirthday release of The Ninja’s Daughter by an author whose been happily writing sequential stories in my beloved Cosy Historical Mystery series since I first became a book blogger! Our paths crossed initially in late 2013, however, I did not read my first Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori adventure until 2014! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first opened up Claws of the Cat, but what I found forever changed my impression of what a Cosy Historical Mystery set in 16th Century Japan could entail! The visualisations alone make this series a wonderful exploration of the century – as everything is on full display – the fashion, the cultural heritage and the traditions of the Japanese I grew up knowing about due to a cultural interest of my grandparents.

Ms Spann doesn’t just root you to the pages your reading, she flickers such a strong connection of recognition for the century in which her series is set, that you are intimately familiar with the local environs of Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori as soon as you find your feet planted on the footpaths these gentlemen are taking to solve some of the most heinous and horrific crimes of their era. Each capsule of the series is an connective tissue of beautiful continuity and seamless transitions from one story to the next, where you can happily arrive anywhere in the series and find your way inside the stories.

The ease of acceptance within the friendship of Father Mateo and Hiro is what originally endeared me to this cosy historical mystery series, and it is this same connection of two souls of different cultural backgrounds that holds my attention. Spann has a wonderful gift for capitalising on secondary characters who prove to have pivotal roles within the story as we move forward — so much so, that they become a bit of a fixture in your mind’s eye as you re-visit their environment.

Spann continues to write in such a beautiful arc of narrative voice, styling her cosy historical mysteries after the culture she celebrates with each novel she pens. She keeps the characters true to not only their own personal beliefs and convictions, but to the cultural heritage they are naturally akin to representing. I may have voiced wanting to see more emotional responses from the samurai, but that was only as an observational notice of how well controlled their emotions are and how wisely they choose not to show too much emotion to the outside world; as it would be a completely slip of weakness.

There are simply times where you feel as a reader, one character, even if a minor one in a story might react differently than their training; and it is in this, that I celebrate Spann’s gift for historical accuracy as much as personality of character accuracy. The ways of the West and the East do not always align, and by representing her characters with the strength of their own individual personalities, a bridge is reached and crossed.

(excerpt from my review from Blade of the Samurai)

I, personally have held a curiosity for the Samurai, and through this series I feel as if I have developed a kinship awareness of what these men (and select women!) went through for honour, duty and the freedom to respectively serve those of whom they protected. I even love how she bridges the cultural divides between her two lead protagonists whilst owning to the humble truths of both men. They each have their individualistically unique personalities and this aptly shines through the series as well. They have a brotherhood bond between them with an ease of awareness to understand each others’ feelings whilst keeping check with each other if boundaries are crossed.

If you celebrate secondary characters taking their scenes to shine and lead characters who have an intricate path to walk, this is a historical mystery series you can sink your teeth inside with pleasurable joy! I know I have and I am beyond blessed to be continuing to review this series as a reviewer with Ms Spann’s new publisher Seventh Street Books! I am twice honoured as I get to tie-in my showcase of the fourth release with the latest blog tour hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, of which I love being a blog hostess of as Amy Bruno has the knack for selecting wicked good historical fiction to feature through her blog tours whilst uniting all of us who love reading the historical past across centuries and continents! It is through historical fiction narratives we all happily get to become time travellers seeking knowledge, empathy and a moment of truth that is sometimes hidden or overlooked.

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On my connection to Susan Spann:

I started visiting the chats hosted by @LitChat in the latter months of 2013, as it was around the time of the conference at The Betsy in which I started to cross paths with regular chatters, amongst whom were Natalia Sylvester (début novelist of “Chasing the Sun”) and Susan Spann. I am unsure which month I first started to notice Ms. Spann as a friendly presence who always reminded me of myself — someone who provided cheerful commentary, engaging questions for each visiting guest author, and a wicked knowledge base on a variety of topics. Generally speaking, I always click-over to read a person’s Twitter profile, but whilst engaged in those #LitChat(s) I felt like it was this magical rendezvous for the bookish and those who are attuned to bookish culture.

In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on a blog tour that I decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the (Blade of the Samurai) blog tour in September 2014! Such serendipity as the tour brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word. We have continued to remain in touch although we do not get to ‘meet-up’ on Twitter as often as we once did due to our schedules in recent years.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms Spann through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst attending #LitChat or in private convos. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author, whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their series in sequence of publication.

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Notation on Cover Art Design: I personally love the realism in this image – it reminded me so very much of the Japanese masks and porcelain china dolls. Interestingly enough, originally this novel in the series was entitled: Mask of the Fallen – the only evidence of which is how this cover reminded me of that title due to how brilliant the cover resembles a ‘mask’. I was keen to see if this played out to be of key importance in the newly titled The Ninja’s Daughter or if the clue of the title had changed. It’s such a sophisticated treat to see this cover art and to see the new direction of the book jackets!

#PubDay Book Review | “The Ninja’s Daughter” (Book No.4 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann (previously the Shinobi Mysteries)The Ninja's Daughter
Subtitle: A Hiro Hattori Novel
by Susan Spann
Source: Direct from Publisher

Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781633881815

Also by this author: Author Q&A : Susan Spann (on behalf of her Shinobi mysteries), Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, Flask of the Drunken Master, Interview with Susan Spann (FLASK), Author Interview (Hiro Hattori Novels), Betrayal at Iga

Also in this series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, Flask of the Drunken Master, Betrayal at Iga, Trial on Mount Koya


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 2nd August, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 230

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Susan Spann

Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the author of three previous novels in the Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master The series is now known as the Hiro Hattori Novels through it's new publisher Seventh Street Books.

She has a degree in Asian Studies and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. When not writing, she works as a transactional attorney focusing on publishing and business law. She raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium. As well as hosting the inspiring Twitter series of informative publishing insight known as #PubLaw.

Converse via: #HiroHattoriNovels + #HistoricalMystery or #HistMyst

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Where we left Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori:

There was an insurgency of war brewing in the background, as movement of supplies was one of the key factors of what was involved during Flask of the the Drunken Master. Hiro and Father Mateo was caught in the thick of the storm surrounding this shift in power and the potential dangers this would cause to Father Mateo. For all purposes, the power disputes did not surprise me, as I had originally felt those in ruling power were tediously on the fringes of finding that not everyone would want them to have longevity in that role. What is more curious though, is how a new transitional phase to overtake a vacated position can sometimes cause a rouse of suspicion towards why a successor was not found sooner.

You could feel the intensity of the moment affecting Hiro moreso than Father Mateo, as the priest knew to trust his partner in matters such as these as he was a stranger in a land with unjust rules he could never quite reconcile. After their case was resolved, both men stood pensively as they contemplated what the near future would have in store for them as nothing was quite as it should be.

My Review of The Ninja’s Daughter:

Our return is on the footheels of Flask, as only a month has transpired since we were last visiting Father Mateo and Hiro – an apprentice at the brewery their last case involved had stepped forward under the cloak of darkness to meet with them to discuss a rather delicate discovery. The young man was in the full bloom of love with the displeasure of being burdened with grief as the love of his life was found murdered beside him a short time before he sought out Father Mateo’s advice. For Hiro, the matter was of unimportantance as he did not bode well for patience for commoners or their ensuing problems; whereas his comrade in arms, felt it was necessary to save lives as much as souls.

Your heart chokes on the realisation that young Jiro’s beloved is a mere teenager taken far too soon for her years and sadly, bourne into a family who has no honour in death nor in life. The customs for the dead are striking as unless you were bourne to the right class of citizenship, the laws were not in your favour for kindness nor compassionate burial. It is at the scene of the dead girl’s discovery where Father Mateo immediately reacts rather than pauses to reflect on his actions; this is something that he’s spoken to Hiro about at great length in the past. Hiro would lament the priest oversteps himself moreso than he takes concern to impede his impulses to aide those in need. Yet, Father Mateo would counter that if he were not to circumvent a further tragedy by omitting the necessity to aide those whose loved ones are now cast aside (as if they were part of a rubbish bin) he couldn’t justify his position as a priest who serves the people.

Hiro’s past is shrouded by what he cannot reveal as his fellow shinobi (the samurai) are an elite force who adhere to their own set of rules, which is why I found it most fascinating that his Uncle was at the center of this particular investigation. An investigation by definition that could not exist if the Kyoto police force found out about their sleuthing as it was ‘off the books’ and ‘unwanted’ by them officially. Hiro’s Uncle is not very forthcoming with information (not surprising, Hiro himself is extremely guarded) but he did give enough hints towards why he was concerned for his daughter’s demise to warrant Hiro to take an interest to obtain what happened. In a surprising turn, it was Father Mateo this time who hesitated to pursue the case for reasons he readily omitted to Hiro which caused a small rift between them. Hiro would allow his friend time to talk to him but this disruption from his general behaviour perplexed Hiro all the same.

Hiro is continuing to make clandestine meetings with other shinobi of whom he would normally not hesitate to take into battle, except that since the equilibrium of balance between clans is as uncertain as the seat for shogun, he is deferring his natural instincts this time around. What I found curious is how determined the proposed new shogun (as he hasn’t taken command) is about removing Father Mateo from Japan; specifically from Kyoto. Father Mateo has been threatened many times in the past, each time nearly not surviving without a scrap or two, but this threat on his life feels more personal somehow.

Unravelling the thread of deceit behind this girl’s crime is proving to be quite complicated! She is not of the wholesome character you felt she was in the beginning, but even her secrets are a bit of a mar against the family she left behind. It leaves doors open to question the sincerity of their actions and words after the fact. Complications abound, as her father is cut of the same cloth as Hiro, making her the ninja’s daughter of whom this novel is named. The further her secrets led down roads no one would feel a girl of a honest background would want to pursue only forestalls the truth from wringing out of the shadows.

I honestly never suspected one thread of the plot would have taken such a twist of a turn, although after I learnt more about what was motivating Emi to break tradition seeking a way up and out of her station, the more I realised she might try something more daring to reach that end. The sad part is that her true heritage would have granted the freedom she desperately sought in a field of living that could no longer grant her a wish of her heart. Such a sad tale – where one girl’s lost heritage overturns her will to live within the walls of her commoner lifestyle.

Oh, dear my! I love how wickedly Spann gives us something we’re not expecting and yet so very much want to see found in each of her stories! I have become quite attached and fond of Ana, Father Mateo and Hiro as well as Hiro’s cat Gato (that’s a riddle in of itself that will tickle your funnybone!) to such a level I eagerly appreciate finding them once more occupying the story’s central heart. I think the ending of this one was quite special indeed because it brought out things that might have been elusively just outside our knowledge in the previous installments but are now fully present and centred. These characters are a ragtag family of whom are precious and dear to each other, even if they don’t always sound like they love each others’ company! Now that their embarking on a new beginning, I long to see what will be waiting for them at their destination! What fun!

I love how in the end, the original title was fittingly well placed to alert you about a particular plot point that truly did come to pass! The title that is on the novel is well played, as it hints towards where the story ends up in the concluding chapters. The beauty of reading this installment is how the world in which Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori occupy is now expanding dimensionally wider in scope and thereby, the next story will carry us a bit further into the background of Hiro than we’ve ventured previously. I am full of awe at how with each new story, the mysteries grow in strength and in presence of place,…

Ms Spann has created a series for the historical reader at heart!

Why I love reading the Hiro Hattori Novels:

Ms Spann keeps you keenly invested in being aware of not only the current plot thickening before your eyes, but the concurrent story-lines which came prior to the one your reading! You have to keep observant and the wicked challenge is piecing all the lovely clues together which add into the depth of where the series is grounded. I love finding an author whose symmetry for carrying a series forward is never overshadowed by an installment but rather brightened by how all the stories within the series broaden the appeal of how far reaching the series has become! It’s a special treat, as you get to dig deeper into the background of where the Hiro Hattori novels are set and how everything is fused together properly through the characters who populate the series directly.

I fell in-step with this installment with the grace of remembering the previous stories, alongside the causal familiarity of the lead characters as even their personable quirks of manners or behaviour were easily observed now! I like reading serial fiction for the extension of spending time inside an author’s imagined world but the treat is finding authors like Ms Spann who make returning visits as lovely as this one has been for me! Even noting the guards at the bridges and gates in the city was a fixture of my memories, as one thing I learnt quickly is your mode of transportation is nearly always by foot but your freedom of movement is never a guarantee!

Spann etches in lessons of mortality and a fine line of ethics into her stories, which is one reason they appeal to me as much as they do. She doesn’t just want you to read a mystery for the sake of it, but to truly think about the complications each crime brings to the community or have one death can involve many different lives in ways that is not as easily to see from the offset. It is this attention to the details that grants you the joy in reading the Hiro Hattori novels – each story is a further glimpse into the evolving story where the fuller arc of the series begins to bloom forward into view.

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This book review is courtesy of:

Seventh Street Books

whilst being featured in conjunction with the blog tour via

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Ninja's Daughter blog tour via HFVBTs.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Return on 26th of August to see my conversation with Ms Spann! Until then, kindly take a moment to travel back in time through my reviews of the previous Hiro Hattori Novels (linked below this review) as well as happily read my prior conversations with Ms Spann as the series evolved forward!

Remember to follow the blog tour to find more readerly impressions as this series *celebrates!* a new publishing home with Seventh Street Books! The very publisher I’ve come to love for wicked brilliant mysteries such as the Marjorie Trumaine Mysteries! If your looking for incredibly layered stories this publisher rocks!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

Jorie is happily celebrating @SusanSpann's 4th #HiroHattoriNovels release! Read about this #HistoricalMystery Click To Tweet

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Ninja’s Daughter”, book synopsis of “The Ninja’s Daughter”, author photograph of Susan Spann and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Cover art of “Claws of the Cat”, “Blade of the Samauri” and “Flask of the Drunken Master” provided by the author Susan Spann on previous blog tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie in Canva: Ruminations & Impressions Banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 2 August, 2016 by jorielov in 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity




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