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Reviewed by Caleb Shadis
The Ninja’s Daughter is the fourth book in the Shinobi Mystery series. This is the second one I have read and I enjoyed it just as much as the last one. Hiro Hattori is a Shinobi (ninja!) disguised as a ronin samurai, paid to protect Father Mateo. Father Mateo is a Jesuit priest preaching to the Japanese poor and under classes in 16th Century Japan.
This story started with an early morning call by an apprentice merchant Father Mateo met in the last book. The boy was in a fright. He had gotten drunk the night before and when he woke up on the river bank, the girl he was infatuated with was laying dead on the bank next to him, strangled. At first, he thought he must have done the job, not remembering because of too much Saki, but after calming down and talking with the Father, he realized that wasn’t likely. When Hiro, Mateo and the boy went to the river to begin an investigation, they found the authorities already found the body and identifying the girl as an actor class, dismissed the case as not a murder. While this let the boy off with the hook, – regardless of whether or not he committed the crime – the injustice made Father Mateo plan to investigate anyway.
Hiro tried to dissuade Mateo from investigating, especially since he was warned off by the police when the father of the girl came to collect the body. The father turned out to be Hiro’s uncle (also a Shinobi) disguised as an actor. This obligates Hiro to look into the murder as well.
What follows is a sad story made convoluted and difficult by an unknown Samurai extorting those who can’t retaliate and over zealous police officers wanting to arrest Father Mateo and Hiro for not following the orders of the magistrate.
Things are also heating up in Kyoto with a power struggle to replace the fallen Shogun. The one currently holding the title claimed it under suspicious circumstances and the relatives want it back. This makes it dangerous for the Jesuits living there as well.
I really enjoyed this book and still need to read the first two in the series to find out how these two protagonists met and started their relationship. I learned a bit about 16th century Japanese culture from these books and I find that almost as fascinating as the story itself. I recommend these to mystery lovers!
Also by Susan Spann: Flask of the Drunken Master
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Seventh Street Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.