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Betrayal at Iga, Susan Spann.

October 29, 2017

Betrayal at IgaBetrayal at Iga, by Susan Spann. Prometheus Books, 2017.

4 stars

An engaging mystery, another in a series featuring a Portuguese Jesuit and his Japanese friend and protector in sixteenth century Japan.

Susan Spann is an American woman who is an expert in Japanese culture and history.  In college at Tufts University, she focused on Asian Studies and then went on to law school.  Once her law career was established, she turned to her love of Japanese history and started her series about Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori. This is the fifth book in the series.

When Father Mateo came to medieval Japan as a missionary, he was granted a ninja master, Hiro Hattori, as a translator and protector.  In previous books, the pair has solved several mysteries.  This time they visit the home village of the Hattori clan. When they are there, representatives from a rival clan arrive to negotiate a sensitive peace deal.  The leader of the rival clan dies of poison, and the murderer must be found.  Mateo and Hiro lead the investigation.  The search for the murderer reveals the details of clan life as more murders take place and the situation becomes increasingly tense.

I really enjoy books like this one which give me a well-told mystery set in another time and place.  I like being able to learn about people I could never know through a story that reveals how a culture actually works.  I particularly appreciated Spann’s treatment of women in the narrative, and I just wish that I knew more about its accuracy.  Thanks to Susan Spann for this series.

I strongly recommend this book as a good mystery and a window into medieval Japan.  Although it is one of a series, it also works well as a stand alone book.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2017 6:25 pm

    Have you come across Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori trilogy? I’ve only read the first two, but enjoyed them: they’re set in ancient Japan too.

    • October 29, 2017 7:43 pm

      Thanks as always for the suggestion. I will see if I can get copies.

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