Susan Spann

Mystery Author

The latest entry in the thrilling 16th century Japanese mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo!

“A compelling mystery powered by political intrigue and cultural conflicts.”–Lisa Brackmann, New York Times bestselling author of Go-Between and Rock Paper Tiger.

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The Ninja’s Daughter

Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace—but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

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  • The Cats of Fushimi Inari

    Like many Japanese shrines and temples, Fushimi Inari Taisha, south of Kyoto, has its share of resident cats.

    Although not numerous, the cats appear to be permanent residents of the shrine, and though some, like this little fellow:

    Fushimi Inari Kitten

     clearly belong to the people who run the teahouses dotting the slopes of Mount Inari, others–like this one I met near the bottom of Inariyama last November:

    Fushimi Inari Cat (1)

    seem to live on the mountain itself. That said, unlike most feral cats, the residents of Fushimi Inari seemed eager for human attention. The handsome tuxedo in the photo above followed me along the path, meowing insistently, until I stopped to pet him.

    A group of visitors gathered behind me, pointing at the cat, and as soon as I left him they moved in to take my place.

    When I left to continue my climb, the cat was surrounded by happy people, purring loudly and splayed out on his side to maximize the petting he could receive.

    While it’s always wise to act cautiously around strange or feral animals, many of the cats of Fushimi Inari seem only too happy to receive any attention visitors want to give. According to legend, some of them might not actually be cats at all . . . Japanese legends say that Inari’s messenger foxes are shapeshifters, capable of assuming human or other animal forms at will.

    Fushimi Inari Cat

    Which means that, maybe, the animal I met on the path was not a cat at all…