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After more than forty years of living “safe and scared,” Susan Spann decided to break free by climbing one hundred of Japan’s most famous mountains in a single year. But when an unexpected cancer diagnosis forced her to confront her deepest fears, the mountains of Japan became the setting for a transformative journey–from pain and fear to a new life fueled by hope, confidence, and strength.
This immersive, inspiring, and witty page-turner captures the terrifying lows and breathtaking highs of a woman’s journey from timidity to confidence, cancer to healing, and regret to joy, as she breaks the mental and physical chains that once prevented her from living out her dreams. Susan chronicles her journey with an insightful, often humorous eye for not only her travels across Japan, but the culture, food, nature, and obstacles she encountered along the way, and complements her honest and vivid prose with breathtaking personal photographs.
“Spann’s journey is a tremendous reach into uncertainty amidst a cancer diagnosis, and ultimately her summits become a reward far more than the tops of the mountains she attains. ” — Erik Weihenmayer, Athlete, Adventurer, Bestselling Author and founder of NO BARRIERS USA
May, 1564: When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.
“While Spann demonstrates admirable attention to detail in her ninja detective debut, it’s the contemporary tone of her prose that makes this intriguing 16th-century historical so accessible. ” — Library Journal (starred review, mystery debut of the month)
June, 1565: When a killer murders the shogun’s cousin, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are summoned to the shogun’s palace and ordered to find the killer.
The evidence implicates Hiro’s friend and fellow shinobi, Kazu, who was working undercover at the shogunate; however, the victim’s wife, a suspicious maid, and even the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want the victim dead. With enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.
“A sharp, well-integrated mystery.” — Kirkus Reviews
August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute.
A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim’s spendthrift son on the suspect list, and the drunken monk who claims responsibility for the crime quickly proves more hinderance than help. With Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and powerful samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger.
“Hiro and Father Mateo . . . make a remarkable crime-solving team.” — Library Journal
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.
“A compelling mystery, powered by political intrigue and cultural conflicts.” — New York Times bestselling author Lisa Brackmann
Autumn, 1565: After fleeing Kyoto, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo take refuge with Hiro’s ninja clan in the mountains of Iga province. But when an ambassador from the rival Koga clan is murdered during peace negotiations, Hiro and Father Mateo must find the killer in time to prevent a war between the ninja clans.
With every suspect a trained assassin, and the evidence incriminating not only Hiro’s commander, the infamous ninja Hattori Hanzo, but also Hiro’s mother and his former lover, the detectives must struggle to find the truth in a village where deceit is a cultivated art. As tensions rise, the killer strikes again, and Hiro finds himself forced to choose between his family and his honor.
“Spann keeps getting better . . . a taut closed-circle mystery with perilous consequences. Fans of classic whodunits will be pleased.” —Publisher’s Weekly
November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head to Mount Koya, and find themselves embroiled in a mystery at a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan’s most sacred peaks.
Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple atop Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead.
“Spann’s homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None combines a puzzling mystery with a fascinating look at historical Buddhism.” —Kirkus
January, 1566: When a vengeful spirit terrorizes a mountain village, Hiro and Father Mateo must save the villagers from the phantom’s wrath.
En route to Edo, Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo spend the night in a rural mountain village whose inhabitants live in terror of a legendary vengeful ghost. When the innkeeper’s wife is murdered and Father Mateo’s housekeeper, Ana, is blamed for a crime she did not commit, Hiro and Father Mateo are forced to investigate and reveal the truth. But when another woman turns up murdered in the snow, the detectives must face the shocking truth that the vengeful yurei the villagers fear might be more than just a legend after all.
“Atmospheric, meticulously researched … Historical mystery fans will be well satisfied.” —Publisher’s Weekly
Edo, February 1566: When a samurai’s corpse is discovered in the ruins of a burned-out bookshop, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo must determine whether the shopkeeper and his young apprentice are innocent victims or assassins in disguise. The investigation quickly reveals dangerous ties to Hiro’s past, which threaten not only Edo’s fledgling booksellers’ guild, but the very survival of Hiro’s ninja clan. With an arsonist on the loose, and a murderer stalking the narrow streets, Hiro and Father Mateo must save the guild—and themselves—from a conflagration that could destroy them all.