In 16th-century Japan, a ninja must solve a murder or a priest will die.
Matsui Hiro, a shinobi or master ninja, has been assigned to protect the Portuguese priest Father Mateo while he lives in Kyoto and a merchant whose specialty is guns. When Sayuri, a Christian teahouse entertainer, is accused of murdering the samurai Akechi Hideyoshi, Father Mateo insists that she is innocent. Akechi’s hotheaded, vengeful son Nobuhide arrives ready to kill Sayuri, but Hiro talks him into allowing them three days to prove her innocence. If they fail, both the girl and the priest will die. It’s not that difficult, Hiro soon learns, to find someone who wanted Akechi dead. Akechi’s brother Hidetaro, who’s in love with Sayuri, is slowly paying the price to remove her from the teahouse. Hideyoshi’s daughter, who’s been brought up as a samurai, now inherits her father’s estate, much to the disgust of Nobuhide. There is also a political angle, for warring factions are eager to take over the Shogunate, and spies abound. Indeed, Hiro reflects, he is a spy himself. As he draws on his many resources, he relies as well on the insight he gains from Father Mateo to solve the complex murder.
Spann’s debut provides an absorbing look at Japanese culture along with a sharp mystery. First of a planned series.