Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Shinobi Mystery #1
When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.
The setting was also impressive as it was set in Japan when shinobi (samurai) were prevalent and war was imminent. It was really hard picking between a historical rating or a mystery. I ended up with mystery because I didn't see the ending coming.
Father Mateo is an immigrant from Portugal whose purpose is to spread the word of Christianity. It is Hiro's job as an honorable (and sometimes mysterious) shinobi to protect him. Failure at this could result very badly for Hiro. He's a man pretending to be something he's not. It makes his past all the more interesting.
When a murder is committed at a local teahouse, the entertainer Sayuri is blamed. It's not so simple, but nothing is in Susan Spann's mysteries. I did find it curious as to why the word geisha was always omitted, but ultimately, Sayuri was called an entertainer. (Yes, I thought it was funny as I've read "Memoirs of a Geisha" too.)
From here I was given the first impressions of characters, Father Mateo and Hiro. I really enjoyed their idiosyncrasies. As a foreigner, Mateo doesn't understand the intricacies of the Japanese language and body language. They're a complicated culture and I was absorbed in not only the story, but the setting as well. I love learning something new about different cultures and this book had plenty of it without being overwhelming.
Claws of the Cat is filled with fascinating characters, culture and a multi-layered mystery.
About the Author:
CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013)
a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month
BLADE OF THE SAMURAI (Minotaur Books, July 15, 2014)
FLASK OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER (Minotaur Books, Scheduled for July 2015)
Where to Find: Website | Twitter @susanspann