It is autumn in Kyoto in the year 1565. When a young woman is found murdered on the shores of the Kamo River, the local police aren’t interested in investigating. The girl is an actor’s daughter, one of the many of low social status in the city.
Master Ninja Hiro Hattori learns the girl is the daughter of a fellow ninja and feels obligated to avenge her. He enlists his friend and charge, a Portuguese Jesuit named Father Mateo, and the two soon find themselves embroiled in a very dangerous plot. In the world of theater nothing and no one is as it seems and the only clue they have to help them is a single gold coin.
I generally don’t start a series in the middle but this was one of the times it couldn’t be helped. My library only had this part of the series and I was unable to find the earlier books. Considering how much I enjoyed this book, I am hoping to find the previous stories.
The Ninja’s Daughter is set in a time of change for Japan. Long isolated from the outside world, Japan was an insular society and viewed outsiders with distrust. This kind of culture clash is used to great effect in the story as what Hattori takes as normal, Father Mateo often finds puzzling or even unthinkable. For the police to not investigate the murder of a girl is horrifying to the priest.
Spann shows how good research can go a long way with a story by bringing 16th century Kyoto to life with her words. She shows how different cultures can clash but can also come together when the time is needed. As much as I enjoyed The Ninja’s Daughter, I likely would have enjoyed it more had I started with the first book.
While it does have potential to stand on its own, readers will likely want to start with the first book of the Shinobi Mystery series. Personally, I’ll be keeping an eye out for earlier books as well as later books of this series.