Category: Cosy Historical Mystery

Blog Book Tour | “Trial at Mount Koya” (Book No.6 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann A beautifully atmospheric #HistoricalMystery atop a sacred mountain during a harrowing blizzard lends a suspenseful backdrop to evolving drama!

Posted Friday, 13 July, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

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 asked to join the blog tour for ‘Trial at Mount Koya’ as last Summer, I was meant to participate on the tour for IGA before it was cancelled. I love celebrating this series, as despite the fact I originally received both CLAWS & BLADE on a blog tour, I am never certain which story I tip my hat to read is going to become a ‘beloved series’ of mine. Each story which touches my heart is truly a special discovery as I am quite particular about what I read and the kind the stories I hold quite dear.

This Spring, when I received the book in the post, one thing happily surprised me! I was quoted on the Press Release for the first time in relation to my prior readings of the series itself! Talk about a moment where your brilliantly gobsmacked to see your quote and the words you used to fuse your thoughts to your blog in reference to how reading about Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori resonates with you directly! I was both humbled and excited knowing my words are reaching others as this lovely novel takes flight into the world and into new reader’s hearts!

I received a complimentary copy of “Trial at Mount Koya” 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. Whilst I am participating on the blog tour hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours of which I am an avid hostess as Historical Fiction and the eclectic route I take through the subgenres therein is a blissitude of its own!

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Why I personally love *devouring!* the Hiro Hattori Novels:

Series Overview: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo investigate crime in medieval Japan, from the palaces of the samurai to the colorful world of Kyoto’s theater district—and beyond. The series weaves fictional plotlines through one of the most exciting—and dangerous—times in Japanese history.

Ms Spann has created a series for the historical reader at heart! A bit of a backstory about my ardent admiration for this portal into 16th Century Japan:

I still marvel at how I came to know of the series through the second release Blade of the Samurai whilst being blessed to have read the series from the beginning in Claws of the Cat. Each step along the way my heart has felt pulled into the drama and the suspense behind how the friendship Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori have shaped their lives – there is a lot going on in the series, from a historical perspective and from the world’s point of view of where Ms Spann has alighted us into her lovely 16th Century world. Her world-building is what makes this such a keen series to feel a part of as you nearly take for granted it’s not the 16th Century each time you place yourself in step with her characters!

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On where we left Father Mateo & Hiro Hattori:

I loved seeing Father Mateo react to Hiro’s relatives – from his grandmother to his mother to his cousin – each in turn showed a different side to Hiro but they also revealled a bit about themselves. Such as when the priest realised he was amongst those who are emotionally removed from the crime committed here because they themselves are trained for such crimes as shinboi. They have such a different life compared to the kind of life a priest would accept or understand; something he finds difficult to process time to time such as now. As he gathers information about certain aspects of what transpired he is put into uncomfortable positions to overhear things which do shock him a bit to learn.

Finding Hiro’s grandmother Akiko had taken in an orphaned girl and named her Tane was an interesting twist to the main plot. Especially as Ms Spann showed how the girl could only communicate through Sigh Language – as it spoke to homegrown signs the girl devised herself and used to speak on her behalf to to the family she lost. It also pointed to the fact, those who are hard of hearing or are unable to speak were not limited to only occupying later centuries but were alive during previous generations as well. It was interesting to hear the reasons why these persons were kept from records and observations in regards to populations. Sadly this is still being practiced today – of removing marginalised persons from historical records in an ill-attempt to have them erased from our memory.

Poisons are a tricky beast – they are effectively one of my favourite devices used in mysteries because of how diverse the choice of poisons are to be found irregardless of the century a story is told. In this one, what was interesting is the layers – of how one crime led to another (a near miss) and how if you looked at these from a distance, there was a layering of how someone wished harm to some but not to others; as if there was a message being carried out in the delivery of the crimes.

This is how Ms Spann holds my attention – she makes me endeavour to sleuth a bit ahead of her characters – daring me to seek out the hidden threads of how everything connects giving me an intellectually robust mystery I readily find enjoyment in engaging inside. I love seeing how her mind ferrets out her secondary story-lines – of how all the pieces of each character’s tapestry is finely orchestrated to be revealled bit by bit and even then, there are surprises for us – either in their character’s heart or the will of how their perspective might change as they live through different experiences.

She holds a particular attention towards detailed continuity and of evoking an enlarged sense of the wider world in which feudal Japan existed; of how all the branches of individual lives were being affected by the rise of power and of the augmentation of shifting tides of alliances therein. There is a hefty potboiler of dramatic revelation and exploration of what makes a country tick from the inside out whilst not to be overshadowed by the pursuit of a humbled priest who takes his personal mission deeply seriously as his soul’s intended journey for this life he’s led. As we weave in and out of the series, we see the landscape of Japan shifting, of how lives are being affected by the shogun currently in reign and of how even the shinobi themselves were not immune to the growing changes within their world.

-quoted from my review of Betrayal at Iga

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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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Blog Book Tour | “Trial at Mount Koya” (Book No.6 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann A beautifully atmospheric #HistoricalMystery atop a sacred mountain during a harrowing blizzard lends a suspenseful backdrop to evolving drama!Trial on Mount Koya
Subtitle: A Hiro Hattori Novel : A Shinobi Mystery
by Susan Spann
Source: Direct from Publisher

Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head up to Mount Koya, only to find themselves embroiled in yet another mystery, this time in a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan’s most sacred peaks.

November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple at the summit of Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633884151

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), The Ninja's Daughter, 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, The Ninja's Daughter, Betrayal at Iga, (Interview) Trial on Mount Koya


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 3rd July, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 256

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Ms Susan Spann

Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the award-winning author of the Hiro Hattori mystery novels, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo.

Susan began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest.

Susan is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year, a former president of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (National and Sacramento chapters), the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is represented by literary agent Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.

When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, photography, and hiking. She lives in Sacramento with her husband and two cats, and travels to Japan on a regular basis.

In 2018, whilst under contract with Prometheus Books, Ms Spann is travelling throughout Japan to climb the #100Summits. She blogs her mountaineering adventures, shares her photography on both Instagram and Twitter and is writing the book which will debut in 2020 under the tentative title: 100 Summits.

Converse via: #HiroHattoriNovels + #HistoricalMystery or #HistMyst

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 13 July, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 16th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Equality In Literature, Feudal Japan History, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, History, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity

Audiobook Review | “A Looming of Vultures” (Ruritanian Rogues series, No.1) by Richard Storry, narrated by Jake Urry (otherwise known as Jorie’s favourite narrator of Suspense!)

Posted Tuesday, 23 January, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “A Looming of Vultures” via Audiobookworm Promotions who is working directly with the author Richard Storry in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What drew my eye to listening to this novel:

Two Words: Storry & Urry

I’d love to say there was a more specific reason why I wanted to listen to this story – however, once you find a winning combination of author + audiobook narrator, you are willing to take a risk and simply request a story to listen to whilst not entirely sure of the premise behind the story your receiving to review! I honestly did a blind request with this audiobook – I knew I loved the ways in which Mr Storry can tell a story whilst I am in love with how Mr Urry narrates stories!

For me, it was kismet finding a new story by both the author and the narrator I loved discovering whilst listening to The Cryptic Lines which remains to this day my top favourite audiobook! In close second are the Moira Quirk narrations for Anna Blanc (read my notes about my latest listening session) which are wicked addictive in the same vein of interest – one author writes Suspense and the other writes wicked brilliant Cosy Historical Mysteries – clearly, I have a mind for murderously lovely stories akin to Jessica Fletcher who lived in such a small towne considering the sincere random quirk of stumbling into crimes with such a high frequency in which she did! lol (smirks) Mind, not all the stories I read involve nefarious crimes (though most do!) – I love a wicked good psychological suspense wherein no one dies but the suspense is harder to needle out because it encapsulates itself into other avenues of the human psyche.

What draws me into Urry’s narration is how his voice is well-matched for the stories Mr Storry is crafting together – therein, you do note how his voice doesn’t quite match his appearance, as I nearly mistook him for someone else entirely – but it’s how well apt he is at these particular genres which lends me wicked addictive to seeing what he’ll do next whilst taking on a new story to narrate. I’ve have it in mind to listen to the stories outside the canon of Storry he narrates, but part of me is curiously curious if some of those are a bit outside the scope of what I would enjoy. Not all, as I am sure I spied at least one story I’d be keen on hearing but the rest, I know he entertains other genres outside my own wanderings.

In short, I’m addictive to his voice and I am musefully happy to see what Mr Storry is going to write next because his stories are a brilliant match to Urry’s narration.

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Audiobook Review | “A Looming of Vultures” (Ruritanian Rogues series, No.1) by Richard Storry, narrated by Jake Urry (otherwise known as Jorie’s favourite narrator of Suspense!)A Looming of Vultures
Subtitle: Ruritanian Rogues, Volume One
by Richard Storry
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Jake Urry

While an ugly war with its neighbouring realm continues to rage, the insulated members of Ruritania’s upper class laugh and dance their way through their superficial lives. Some people, increasingly disillusioned by the pointless conflict, start to consider how the King might be persuaded - or forced - to end it.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of items of great value are going missing from those attending these high society gatherings. At whom will the finger of suspicion point? Who can be trusted?

With so many competing, yet intertwined, agendas, what will be the outcome of this looming of vultures?

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B0764M7FM9

Also by this author: The Cryptic Lines

Genres: Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Suspense


Published by Self Published Author

on 5th October, 2017

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 4 hours 57 minutes (unabridged)

Published By: Cryptic Publications

Ruritanian Rogues series:

A Looming of Vultures | Book One

A Nest of Vipers* | Book Two | Synopsis

*audiobook narrated by Urry, released 10th January, 2018

About Richard Storry

Richard Storry

Richard is the author of four published novels, with his fifth “A Looming of Vultures” due for publication in 2017. Prior to writing his first novel, “The Cryptic Lines” he was very busy in the theatrical world: He composed the incidental music to Chekhov’s Three Sisters, seen in London’s West End, starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Eric Sykes, and subsequently broadcast on BBC4 television.

His musical adaptation of “The Brothers Lionheart” premiered at London’s Pleasance Theatre, followed by a successful run at the Edinburgh Festival where it was voted Best Childrens’ Play. “The Cryptic Lines” has now been adapted for both the stage and screen.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 23 January, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Thriller Suspense, Indie Author, Self-Published Author

Double-Showcase | Book & Audiobook Review of “The Woman in the Camphor Trunk” (Anna Blanc series, No. 2) by Jennifer Kincheloe

Posted Wednesday, 10 January, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

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 copy of “The Woman in the Camphor Trunk” 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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On why I can’t wait to read more about Anna Blanc:

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer KincheloeThe Woman in the Camphor Trunk by Jennifer Kincheloe

Series Overview: Young socialite turned police matron Anna Blanc bucks society’s mores to solve crime in early 1900s Los Angeles.

The main reason I find myself so very attached to the world in which Anna Blanc lives is because of how she is beautifully brought to life by Ms Kincheloe. She has a way of fusing Anna into our hearts whilst winning us over with her quirkily humourous prose which not only dictates a keen awareness of Anna but of the times in which she is alive. It’s a curious door into the historical past as these were my parting words after having read the first novel of the series:

Sophisticated in her ascertainment of conception behind Anna Blanc, Kincheloe has writ such a lively character, you drink in her words with such a joy of delight! She has a fast paced narrative, where the humour is smitten by the sophisticated edging of her character’s personality, matched equally brilliantly by the grace of a Cosy Historical Mystery backdrop! She’s captured the turn of the century atmosphere aptly, as she tucks in recognisable familiarities to alight in your imagination as you turn the pages; replete with gaslights and other bits which correlate with the era.

I loved the way in which Kincheloe turnt a phrase, using words not oft found in historical fiction as her novel is a good primer of words that are wicked to say aloud and used in descriptive narratives such as this one! The phrases themselves are a delight for readers who love words as much as wordsmiths, which Kincheloe definitely excels at including whilst giving Anna Blanc a crafty choice of words to express her emotional duress! She also found a clever way to include Anna’s religious background by having her talk to the Saints when a mood or a moment fitted the hour; it was quite an interesting way to thread faith inside a mainstream novel and I liked the author’s candor.

The best attribute Anna Blanc has within her is a self-motivating resolve to become self-educated as it was such a joy to watch her expand her mind in a fervent attempt to understand the underpinnings of motives and causes of the crimes that were leeching through her city at such a fast rate of alarm. She did not just want to sleuth for the sake of detection but to fully understand the methodology behind the crimes and I think this is a nod to the writer’s (Kincheloe) curiosity being piqued by true crime stories straight out of the historical archives from whence she draws her inspirations. Kincheloe also under-writ a stunning historical survey of early Forensic techniques which inspired Anna with her investigating – especially in regards to understanding the differences between murder and suicide. This became quite pivotal in the story as Anna Blanc made her transition from socialite to female detective.

The beauty of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc are the little bits of plot your not expecting to find encircle through the evolving story – there were little clues fluttering through it’s context, but the joy was not completely sorting it all out until the very last chapter – wherein, your heart swoons with glee and you champion the success Anna Blanc had in closing her second case! This is a bit of a guilty pleasure for historical fiction readers – Kincheloe has tempted us with her wicked sweet prose where a heroine peppers the scenes with her feisty personality and a penchant for seeking out the truth from a sea of lies!

-quoted from my review of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

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Double-Showcase | Book & Audiobook Review of “The Woman in the Camphor Trunk” (Anna Blanc series, No. 2) by Jennifer KincheloeThe Woman in the Camphor Trunk
Subtitle: An Anna Blanc Mystery
by Jennifer Kincheloe
Source: Direct from Publisher
Narrator: Moira Quirk

In early-1900s Los Angeles—an era of courting, ragtime, suffragettes, and widespread corruption—a socialite turned police matron tracks down the murderer of a white woman in Chinatown, while trying to prevent the outbreak of a bloody tong war.

Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. If news about the murder gets out, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna work to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret, reluctantly helped by the good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent local leader.

Meanwhile, the kidnapping of two slave girls fuels existing tensions, leaving Chinatown poised on the verge of a bloody tong war. Joe orders Anna to stay away, but Anna is determined to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633883635

Also by this author: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc [audiobook]

Series: Anna Blanc


Also in this series: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc [audiobook]


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Jennifer R. Kincheloe Ltd, Seventh Street Books

on 14th November, 2017

Format: Audiobook | Digital, Trade Paperback

Pages: 304

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook and Audiobook

About Jennifer Kincheloe

Jennifer Kincheloe Photo Credit: Fola Akinyemi

Jennifer has been a block layer, a nurse's aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. A native of Southern California, she now lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers. She's currently writing book three in the Anna Blanc Mystery series. Book two, THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK, is coming out in Fall of 2017 from Seventh Street Books.

Photo Credit: Fola Akinyemi
Biography updated: March 2017

Converse via: #AnnaBlanc + #HistoricalMystery or #HistMyst

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 10 January, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Civil Rights, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cosy Historical Mystery, Cosy Horror, Crime Fiction, Equality In Literature, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Historical Thriller Suspense, History, Indie Author, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Prometheus Books, Realistic Fiction, Religious Orders, Self-Published Author, Taboo Relationships & Romance, the Nineteen Hundreds

Book Review | “Betrayal at Iga” (Book No.5 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann (previously the Shinobi Mysteries) We get to find out more about Hiro’s family as well as the delightfully unexpected character of Tane who touched my heart!

Posted Friday, 29 December, 2017 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

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.

Originally, I was meant to be a part of the blog tour for this release during [Summer 2017] however, the tour did not happen and I still had the blessing of receiving this novel for review. Despite my earnest attempts to read this between August and September, the lightning storms were not working in my favour; thereby, due to circumstances out of my control then and my health issues in the Autumn months, I postponed reading a fifth installment of a series I belove to await a moment where my heart could fully appreciate soaking into this world I love to re-visit.

I received a complimentary copy of “Betrayal at Iga” 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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On where we left Father Mateo, Hiro Hattori & Ana the housekeeper:

Series Overview: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo investigate crime in medieval Japan, from the palaces of the samurai to the colorful world of Kyoto’s theater district—and beyond. The series weaves fictional plotlines through one of the most exciting—and dangerous—times in Japanese history.

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!

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.

-quoted from my review of The Ninja’s Daughter

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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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Book Review | “Betrayal at Iga” (Book No.5 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann (previously the Shinobi Mysteries) We get to find out more about Hiro’s family as well as the delightfully unexpected character of Tane who touched my heart!Betrayal at Iga
Subtitle: A Hiro Hattori Novel
by Susan Spann
Source: Direct from Publisher

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 Hanzo, 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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ISBN: 9781633882775

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), The Ninja's Daughter, Author Interview (Hiro Hattori Novels)

Also in this series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, Flask of the Drunken Master, The Ninja's Daughter, Trial on Mount Koya, (Interview) Trial on Mount Koya


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 11th July, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 256

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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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Friday, 29 December, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 16th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Equality In Literature, Feudal Japan History, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, History, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity