Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Betrayal at Iga by Susan Spann

So, as I mentioned earlier, today is Betrayal at Iga day here on the blog! As part of my stop on the TLC blog tour for Susan Spann's latest Hiro Hattori mystery, we kicked things off with a post from Susan herself on the arduous task of researching food for the series :) And now, a review of the book in question!

Hiro and Father Mateo have been summoned to Hiro's clan home in Iga. They are to host a contingent from another assassin clan, the Koga, in hopes of negotiating a treaty banding the two clans together. But when one of the emissaries dies in the midst of their welcome feast, it seems peace talks are definitely off.

As tempers flare and threats fly, Hattori Hanzō offers up the investigative skills of his cousin and the priest in hopes of settling concerns that the Iga clan is responsible. The Koga clan agrees, but with stipulations that put Father Mateo in even more danger than the already tense situation warrants. With just three days to solve the murder, Hiro and Father Mateo are already under ample pressure. And for Hiro it means more than just another investigation - this time his honor is at risk, his own family stands accused, and the man he is duty bound to protect could become a target to boot. 

So Hiro's in a bit of a pickle in this one - more so than usual. His duty is to protect Father Mateo and the murder of a shinobi in the Koga clan, on the grounds of his own clan and family, is a big deal. The death is determined to be the result of poisoning and Hiro's own mother and grandmother each had a hand in meal preparation. Plus there's the fact that eyes immediately tun to Hiro's cousin, Hattori Hanzō - because nothing happens in Iga without his knowledge.

So yeah, while Hiro and Father Mateo are definitely the most capable of unraveling the surprising lack of clues and revealing who the real killer is and what the motive was, involvement means a lot of risk for the two.

But it's not like they have any choice. Again, there's the whole duty thing - and the head of the Iga clan determines that Hiro's duty can be spent both in protecting Father Mateo AND in solving this delicate case. Hiro would potentially beg to differ, especially as their own lives come closer and closer to danger with each passing hour!

As always, Spann's careful attention to detail makes this a truly delightful series. The historical facts are fascinating and worked into the plot organically - Father Mateo as an outsider makes for the perfect vehicle for explaining any potentially complicated or confusing aspect of the nuances and rules of the culture in 16th century Japan as well as the roles and norms of those within the shinobi clans. And the relationship between Hiro and Father Mateo is wonderful!

Betrayal at Iga is the fifth Hiro Hattori/shinobi mystery but can very easily be read as a stand alone or introduction to the series. There are a few references to past investigations and, in particular, to the way things were left in The Ninja's Daughter, but it's nothing so detailed as to either take away from the reading of those or give away any of their major twists. If you'd like to start from the beginning, here's the series list in order:

Claws of the Cat 
Blade of the Samurai
Flask of the Drunken Master
The Ninja's Daughter
Betrayal at Iga

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Susan Spann and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Seventh Street Books

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Oh! I'm glad to hear that this one works as a standalone - I've been wanting to read the entire series, but it is nice to know that I could just pick this one up and start there.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!