Monday, August 4, 2014

G400 Book Review of Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

Name of Book: Blade of the Samurai

Author: Susan Spann

ISBN: 978-1-250-02705-4

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Part of a Series: A Shinobi Mystery

Type of book: Japan, Shinobi, mystery, 1565, protection, travel, shogun, emperor, districts, loyalty, friendship, Japanese etiquette, samurai

Year it was published: 2014


June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the shogun’'s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.

When the shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.

Susan Spann's Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in sixteenth-century Japan.


Although the story is more story and mystery focused, the characters were interesting and I do want to learn more about them and hope to see more of them. Hiro Hattori (Matsui) is a shinobi (a ninja,) who protects the Jesuit priest named Father Matthew. He is talented when it comes to observations, healing arts, is also tenacious, protective of those he loves and cares about. Father Mateo is a Jesuit priest who has an ironic sense of humor and helps Hiro figure things out. He lives by the christian tenets and hopes Hiro will do the same. He is also clumsy in Japanese etiquette. Kazu is Hiro's closest friend and is also a fellow Shinobi. He is a playboy and is also very protective even at the cost of friendship. There are few other characters but I doubt that they might return.


Everything is not what it seems


The book is written in third person narrative from Hiro's point of view. The story is more plot and dialogue driven rather than character driven, and somehow I felt involved with the mystery, not an outsider at all. What I mean is that books written from a different continent or country have a chance of alienating the audience, yet in the book, I didn't feel this way at all. I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed and I do wonder if I might have missed certain signs, but its a small thing when the story happens to be addictive and you don't notice the time passing by.

Author Information:
(from TLC)

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2013 red backgroundAbout Susan Spann

Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

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I really enjoyed reading it: the story held me on and I wanted to see how it all resolved and what was going on. Its a fun way to learn some history of Japan and some interesting cultural tidbits as well as being involved in an interesting mystery. The story itself is more plot driven rather than character driven and its strengths include dialogue plus an interesting setting. I did wish to learn more about Hiro and his background, but I do hope in the future to do so. The characters did sound genuinely Japanese and its something I might consider lighthearted and fun to relax the mind.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Susan Spann’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 14th:  Reading Reality
Wednesday, July 16th:  Back Porchervations
Monday, July 21st:  Quirky Bookworm
Wednesday, July 23rd:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, July 29th:  The Reader’s Hollow
Thursday, July 31st:  Open Book Society
Monday, August 4th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, August 6th:  Wordsmithonia
Thursday, August 7th:  Nerds in Babeland
Monday, August 11th:  Book Dilettante
Wednesday, August 13th:  5 Minutes for Books
Thursday, August 14th:  The Written World
Monday, August 18th:  ebookclassics
Thursday, August 21st:  Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, September 10th:  Broken Teepee
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. Thank you so much for the great review! I'm delighted that you enjoyed the book and appreciate you taking part in the blog tour!

  2. I have to admit that I don't know a great deal about Japanese history or culture, but I love learning from novels!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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