Hattori Hiroand his partner in crime-solving take on the case of a murdered brewer.
Hiro is a shinobi assassin who has been hired to guard the Portuguese priest Father Mateo Ávila de Santos. Although Hiro tries to keep the priest out of the limelight, they keep getting sucked into murder cases, this time in order to help Ginjiro, a sake brewer to whom Hiro owes a personal debt. Ginjiro has been arrested for the brutal murder of Chikao, a brewery owner whose son Kaoru owed Ginjiro a good deal of money. Chikao had been pestering Genjiro to sell him the brewery and have his daughter, Tomiko, marry Kaoru, whose debts are mounting all over town. Once Genjiro is arrested, Tomiko begs Hiro to help her father. After examining the body and the broken sake flask presumed to be the murder weapon, Hiro is certain that Ginjiro is being framed. Kaoru had angered many people, but why would any of his debtors kill the doting father who struggled to pay his debts? Hiro even suspects the female samurai Akechi Yoshiko, who's worked as a debt collector since her father was murdered (Blade of the Samurai, 2014, etc.). Kyoto is rife with political intrigue and jostling for power since the shogun died. Hiro works to keep the outspoken priest out of trouble while trying to save Ginjiro from a death sentence.
Like earlier series entries, this one is most likely to interest readers with tastes for political intrigue in 16th-century Japan and red herrings.