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Not so with Claws of the Cat. Set in Kyoto, Japan in the fifteen hundreds, Claws of the Cat is a crime fiction mystery and the story of two men, a shinobi in disguise, and his ward, whom he is sworn to protect, a Portugeuse-born Jesuit priest, both drawn into investigating the brutal murder of a samurai in a local teahouse.

In short, this is a whodunnit mystery that will paint your imagination vivid, rare, and intoxicating colors. And most exciting of all, the follow-up novel, Blade of the Samurai , is coming soon. Jul 09, Ronna rated it it was amazing. This new mystery series is set in 16th century Japan and is full of interesting new words and the culture of the times. The heroes are an interesting pair.

Father Mateo, a Jesuit Priest, and Hero, a master shinobi what we think of as a ninja , who is sworn to protect the Father. When a samurai is murdered in a local Kyota teahouse, the lovely young "entertainer" calls upon the Father to prove her innocence. The murdered man's son is furious and wants immediate revenge --the death of the enterta This new mystery series is set in 16th century Japan and is full of interesting new words and the culture of the times. The murdered man's son is furious and wants immediate revenge --the death of the entertainer who was the only one in the room with the murdered man on the night of his death.

He allows Father Mateo two days to prove her innocent and reveal another murderer. If finds no proof, then he threatens to kill both the Father and the girl. This was a very interesting book. New words were defined in the glossary at the end of the book. The culture of the times makes the detecting much different than what we think of for a modern mystery, with social customs making direct questioning almost impossible. The coupling of a Portuguese Christian Priest with a Japanese shinobi makes for interesting interactions.

Knowing very little about those times, I felt myself truly drawn into this well researched and intriguing mystery. Jun 20, Stephanie rated it liked it Shelves: , historical-setting , mystery. First in a new series. I really liked the setting- medieval Japan is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "cozy mystery", but there it is. A Portugese priest and his shinobi bodyguard investigate the murder of a samurai at a local teahouse, where one of the priest's recent converts is the main suspect.

The writing style is spare, but I had no trouble imagining the setting. Tantalizing hints of Hiro's past are dropped, but frustratingly not followed up on; I am guessing First in a new series. Tantalizing hints of Hiro's past are dropped, but frustratingly not followed up on; I am guessing that more will be revealed in subsequent books, and I'll be watching for those. Dec 10, Heather Webb rated it it was amazing.

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Claws of the Cat is a page-turning whodunit packed with sharp details that take the reader on a journey through 16th century Japan. Spann weaves a tight plot with a cast of unique characters with a deft hand. I can't wait to see how the ninja detective, Hiro, reveals more of his dark past as the series unfolds! Dec 19, Carolien rated it really liked it Shelves: , japan , murder-everywhere. This is a cleverly plotted mystery and I enjoyed meeting the cast of characters.

The unusual setting adds a special layer to the story and I definitely improved my limited knowledge of Japanese culture. I look forward to trying more books in the series. Nov 04, Lisa Lieberman rated it it was amazing. I've spent a good deal of time studying suicide, both as a scholar and as a counselor on a suicide hotline. The ritual suicide seppuku in this book moved me, and that's saying a great deal. Suicides in novels are so often gratuitous; in real life, too, they can be manipulative gestures, a final effort at self-expression made with an audience very much in mind.

Here the act was fitting, its tragedy all the more powerful for being understated I will say no more, to avoid ruining things for read I've spent a good deal of time studying suicide, both as a scholar and as a counselor on a suicide hotline. Here the act was fitting, its tragedy all the more powerful for being understated I will say no more, to avoid ruining things for readers who have yet to encounter Claws of the Cat.

Susan Spann has a remarkable ability to inhabit the world of geisha and samurai in sixteenth-century Japan. A glossary of Japanese terms at the back of the book is useful in helping to decipher the more arcane references, but I was too caught up in the story to refer to it until I'd finished.

Take Five: Susan Spann and Claws of the Cat: a Hiro Hattori Mystery

May 15, Sunhawk rated it really liked it. Once again, Sienna finds a compelling book! I'm a sucker for "Far Eastern" stories -- to this day, that locution pisses me off: "far eastern" from the east-coast anglophile cohort, but for us californios, it our "near east. In this book, the expansive and presumably well-informed I'm not well-informed enough to be critical use of Japanese terminology is exciting, and gives the book authority. I love Once again, Sienna finds a compelling book!

I loved the characters, and the perspective -- the voice of the story, Hiro, is the shinobi, "shadowed person" who's assigned by the shogun to protect a Portuguese Jesuit in Kyoto, and his perspective on his protege's different perception of propriety is illuminating The mystery itself is fascinating, as it reveals the strictly layered society of the times, explicit and accepted where for us, while it's equally present, it's so firmly denied. I'll be looking for more from this author.

May 23, Lindsey rated it really liked it Shelves: far-east , historical-mystery. This is a series that I will look forward to reading.

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Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit in 16th century Japan, and his protector Hiro, a shinobi ninja , are tasked with finding the murderer of a local samurai to clear a teahouse girl's name and save their own lives in the process. Mateo and Hiro are an interesting sleuthing team and their inquiries highlight the rigid social expectations and cultural taboos in the world of the samurai.

May 09, Sienna rated it liked it Recommended to Sienna by: Bookbub. Shelves: read I always enjoy a new scene for an old favorite. Jun 07, Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing. The suspect list is short. At least, at first. Honor is stake. Codes govern nearly every interaction. Father Mateo is the Portugese priest and his protector is Hiro, a well-respected samurai who is working undercover. With Father Mateo in tow, we see and learn the multi-faceted rules and customs from the earthen street to the halls of power.


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As others have noted, this is a full-blown immersion into the culture and society at that time. Or all three. With her clean, precise prose style, Spann makes the social studies tidbits belong like a blossom on a cherry tree. Spann plays fair and gives a good game. Sep 25, Aimie Runyan rated it it was amazing.


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The case seems at first glance to be an obvious open and shut: the lovely entertainer is clearly guilty. Father Mateo is not convinced. Sayuri is one of his converts and he cannot believe the innocent girl would be capable of a gristly murder. So many mysteries fall into the trap of overly-punchy sentences and one-page chapters to create the feeling of suspense. Spann does not need to resort to these tricks. In fact, her language is beautifully crafted, almost lyrical in many places.

She provides us with delicious descriptions of the scenery and people of 16th century Japan. She uses the Father Mateo character deftly to show s the intricacies of the Japanese society and culture without being too overt and didactic. As a debut novel, this is an exemplary work blending the best elements of mystery and historical fiction.

I am anxiously looking forward to the next books in her series! Aug 17, Nicole rated it it was ok Shelves: japan , mystery.

Take Five: Susan Spann and Claws of the Cat: a Hiro Hattori Mystery

Definitely not my favorite Japanese historical mystery and for multiple reasons. There was a lot of clunkiness in her attempt to create a mystery-solving duo made of one Portuguese priest and Japanese ninja. Spann started off by telling us that neither is yet fluent in the other's language, yet they constantly have sophisticated conversations in both. More thought was needed to make that believable. The problems continued with the way she tried to bring information about Japan into the narrative Definitely not my favorite Japanese historical mystery and for multiple reasons.

The problems continued with the way she tried to bring information about Japan into the narrative. Her details too often felt pedantic rather than natural, and she has a penchant for using the Japanese word when it doesn't actually add to the story and then slowed things down by requiring an explanation that would have worked just as well standing on its own. I often felt she just wanted to show off what she'd learned in the pursuit of her Asian-oriented hobbies see book jacket.

And then there was the actual narrative. There definitely wasn't much fluff in this book. It was pretty much a mystery stripped down to its essentials - lots of interviews with suspects and very little development of the main characters.

Blade of the Samurai: A Shinobi Mystery (Shinobi Mysteries #2) (Hardcover)

Normally I would be bothered by this, but since I didn't particularly like the main characters, I was happy for a quick ending. View 1 comment. Aug 30, Tinney rated it it was amazing. Absorbed in this page-turner, I had no idea how much I was learning about 16th century Japan until I finished the book. I admire the author's skill in achieving this result so elegantly.

The reader really does need every bit of this information for maximum enjoyment, and at no time did it ever feel like a tedious slog through unnecessary data, or present me with anything I felt tempted to skip — quite the contrary, I would have been happy to pick up a sequel right away and learn more about this Absorbed in this page-turner, I had no idea how much I was learning about 16th century Japan until I finished the book. The reader really does need every bit of this information for maximum enjoyment, and at no time did it ever feel like a tedious slog through unnecessary data, or present me with anything I felt tempted to skip — quite the contrary, I would have been happy to pick up a sequel right away and learn more about this fascinating time and place.

Hiro and Father Mateo are ideal foils for each other, very different, but each with strengths that complement those of the other. The secondary characters are also distinctive and interesting. The author has a profound knowledge of her novel's setting, and she writes with a level of assurance remarkable in a debut novel. I look forward to the next book in this series. Apr 16, Marci Jefferson rated it it was amazing. After reading an early review copy of Claws of the Cat, I give it five enthusiastic stars!

Hiro lives up to the sound of his name as an undercover shinobi striving to fulfill his mission; protect the Portuguese priest Father Mateo. But sixteenth century Japan is fraught with war lords and ninja assassins, some who would stop at nothing to oust the foreign priest and his accompanying merchants. Jan 14, Janet rated it really liked it Shelves: mystery , set-in-exotic-locale , middle-ages-to , finished. I have mixed feelings. I was constantly having to remind myself that this was set in the s.

Jul 30, Janyre Tromp rated it really liked it. Set in the samurai era of Japan, this entertaining book kept my interest from start to finish. The author did a fabulous job of infusing the culture into the story without making it confusing for a Western reader unfamiliar with the setting. I'm a sucker for clean mysteries and odd settings. And it helps that the two sleuths are engaging and interesting.

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Spann plays fair and gives a good game. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Don't Need A Diagram. Book reviews by Mark Stevens. Mostly mysteries. Some other fiction and non-fiction, too. Skip to content. A review follows, but first a chat with Susan Spann. Plus, they had some wicked cool swords.

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