Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 14, 2015)
August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim’s spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger.
Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro’s life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?
Flask of the Drunken Master is the latest entry in Susan Spann’s thrilling 16th century Japanese mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo.
Father Mateo, a Portuguese priest, is out to convert Japanese to Christianity. He is shadowed by a shinobi named Hiro. Hiro is sworn to protect Father Mateo at all costs. The background to this is still a bit fuzzy, but the author shed a little more light in this book. In true form to the style of this series, these two rascals find themselves solving a cleverly plotted murder.
Ginjiro, an artisan who owns a brewery that Hiro attends has been wrongfully accused and is essentially considered guilty. But, of course, we all know that he's likely not and there's a knotted mystery awaiting.
I still enjoyed Father Mateo and Hiro's bantering and how they still are able to surprise each other. Father Mateo is learning more of the Japanese subtitles and Hiro is gaining more respect for other people's beliefs. I was also pleased to see a bit more of Hiro's childhood memories. It spoke volumes in what shaped him into adulthood. Suke, the drunk priest, had me laughing almost every time he appeared. He didn't know he was funny, but the man was a hoot.
The mystery had the characters going door to door and involved some action and a deeper understanding to previous characters. I feel that I can brag about this next part: I figured out the killer. The only reason I feel I can boast this is because the last two books had me scrambling and even this one had me doubting myself once or twice.
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