Blade of the Samurai is currently on tour with TLC Book Tours and I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Please visit their website to see the rest of the tour schedule.
Summer was coming and I wanted something fun and light to read, but also totally different. Blade of Samurai stood out as a book outside of my usual taste and reminded me of when I read Shogun by James Clavell so many years ago.
* CONTAINS SPOILERS
Set in sixteenth century Japan, Blade of Samurai is the second Shinobi mystery featuring secret assassin, Hiro Hattori, who has been retained as a bodyguard for Portuguese Jesuit priest, Father Mateo. Fresh off solving a murder mystery together, Hiro and Father Mateo are summoned to investigate a murder at the shogun’s palace that may or may not involve Hiro’s colleague, Kazu. The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the current clan, possibly by an enemy Lord who is rumoured to be heading towards Kyoto. As Hiro and Father Mateo look deeper into the events leading up to the murder, the list of suspects grow and the number of people they can trust diminishes. But time is running out and the sleuthing duo need to find the killer or take their place when the shogun demands an execution.
I immensely enjoyed Susan Spann’s descriptions of life in sixteenth century Kyoto from the buildings and the city, etiquette between social classes, and how Japanese people conducted their lives during this time. She quite frequently uses the detectives to demonstrate the rigid formality of traditional Japanese culture through Hiro’s constant irritation of Father Mateo’s social faux pas and touchy-feely approach to everyone.
Maybe it’s because I don’t often read mysteries, but I found it difficult to stay interested in the story, even with all of the action and plot twists that changed the direction of the investigation.
Blade of Samurai was an intriguing and fast-paced mystery set in exotic feudal Japan. I really appreciate how Susan Spann wove such a rich tapestry of traditional Japanese culture into the story. Shinobi warrior, Hiro and Father Mateo made an interesting East-meets-West duo and I think they will become a favourite of historical mystery fans.