Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blog Tour (Review): The Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

Title: Blade of the Samurai (Shinobi Mystery #2)
Susan Spann
Publisher: Minotaur Books (Macmillan)
Acquired Via: Historical Fiction Blog Tours
Release Date: July 15, 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.

My Review

Susan Spann's Blade of the Samurai is the second novel in her Shinobi Mystery series set in Japan in the 1500. Though it is not necessary (as I was told) to read Claws of the Cat before reading this book, there are many references to the events in Hiro and Father Mateo's first book.

Though I'm self-admittedly not a big fan of mysteries, I enjoyed Blade of the Samurai because the history was so rich. Most of my historical research has been centered in Europe, so it's been exciting to learn all of the little tidbits of information Spann includes in her novel. She slips in facts about samurai culture, how the government worked, as well customs. That being said, it never felt like a history lesson - these things were expertly weaved into the story.

The two main characters, Hiro and Father Mateo, were an interesting duo, and I loved the way they interacted. Hiro is constantly on pins and needles as Father Mateo bumbles his way through Japan with social mishaps. He doesn't do much that is too taboo, but I snickered each time Hiro would cringe as Father Mateo pointed at something or another. When the story moved on with Hiro as the main focus, I appreciated the deeper insight in who he was as person based on his past.

Since I know pretty much nothing about mysteries, I'm going to call Blade of the Samurai a breadcrumbs mystery. Okay, I guess all mysteries are a little bit breadcrumbs, but I digress. Hiro and Father Mateo's investigation gave us, as the reader, a little snippet of information here and another little bit there, but we were never really given Hiro's full understanding of the situation or the people he questioned. Well, you know, until it was solved and such.

Blade of the Samurai was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that left me with none of my usual feelings of frustration that I generally get with mystery novels. I guess I will tell myself that it was a historical fiction novel with a mystery element. (Mystery fans will know otherwise.) So if you love history, mystery fan or not, I'm sure you'll enjoy Blade of the Samurai.

- 4/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo
IndieBound | Powell's | Wal-Mart

About the Author

Susan Spann acquired her love of books and reading during her preschool days in Santa Monica, California. As a child she read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, July 8
Review at Closed the Cover

Wednesday, July 9
Review at Staircase Wit
Guest Post & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Thursday, July 10
Review at Boolover Book Reviews

Wednesday, July 16
Review at Buried Under Books

Thursday, July 17
Review of Claws of the Cat (Shinobi Mystery #1) at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight at Reviews by Molly

Friday, July 18
Review at History Undressed

Saturday, July 19
Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, July 21
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, July 22
Review at Judith Starkston
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, July 23
Review at The True Book Addict

Thursday, July 24
Interview at Layered Pages

Monday, July 28
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, July 29
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, July 30
Review at Princess of Eboli

Thursday, July 31
Review at A Fantastical Librarian

Friday, August 1
Review at Reading the Ages

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance digital copy of the novel from the publisher through Historical Fiction Blog Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.

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You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!