Read our review of Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel by Susan Spann and enter a giveaway to win a copy of the book!
About ‘Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel’
Betrayal at Iga is Susan Spann’s fifth Shinobi Mystery following master ninja, Hiro Hattori, and the Portuguese Jesuit, Father Mateo. Hiro was hired to protect Father Mateo from danger during uncertain times, but the two developed a mutual respect. In the Shinobi mysteries, the pair work together to solve murders and bring about justice in medieval Japan!
In Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel, Hiro and Father Mateo travel to Hiro’s home province, Iga, after receiving an invitation from Hiro’s commander and cousin, Hanzo Hattori. The duo come to take part in peace negotations between rival clans, but when an ambassador dies at the dinner table, Hiro and Father Mateo are forced to solve the murder in order to stop a brewing war.
Every potential suspect is a trained assassin and most are Hiro’s own family and friends, so their task is anything but easy. Hiro must figure out who to trust while facing the possibility that one of his loved ones might be to blame for putting a valuable alliance at risk.
‘Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel’ review
Admittedly, Betrayal at Iga was my first “Shinobi Mystery,” but I assure you, it will not be my last! Promise of more of this unique setting, charming cast of characters, and wonderfully enjoyable mystery writing already have me begging for the next installment, and eager to go back and fill in the blanks of the past.
It takes a special author to be able to capture someone’s attention and interest so fully as they jump into a story mid-series, but Susan Spann has mastered the technique. Betrayal at Iga begins perfectly for newcomers, leaving you feeling as if you’ve missed nothing, and are stepping into a fresh, untapped world.
Details are effortlessly mixed in throughout the novel, but the story never feels marred by exposition. For those concerned about jumping in too late or weary about committing to a full series, never fear. Betrayal at Iga works wonderfully as a standalone mystery. However, I definitely can’t promise that you won’t feel compelled to devour the rest of Hiro’s stories, after the fact.
One of the greatest strengths of Betrayal at Iga is its characters. Hiro Hattori, the highly skilled ninja, and the man he’s been hired to protect, the priest, Father Mateo, are at the core of the story. Although their relationship began as simply business, their mutual respect for one another caused a strong camaraderie to develop.
Father Mateo may not have the training that Hiro has, but his faith, loyalty, and determination make him an invaluable asset to the accidental detective duo. Hiro’s training as an assassin gives him a fascinating vantage point to view the work of the murderers who he seeks to bring to justice. In Betrayal at Iga, his point of view becomes extra intriguing, since many of the suspects are his own family members, who all have their own agendas.
With great characters in play, the next thing you need is an immersive setting. Spann has found a great one in medieval Japan. The author’s lifelong love and study of Japanese culture and history make her uniquely qualified to bring it to life. She magnificently recreates a stunning country and time period on the page for her readers to get lost in.
Combined, the characters and the setting create a wonderful blend of the modern and the traditional. While the elements of Japanese culture and history are ubiquitous, though still often surprising, a timeless story, familiar relationships and Hiro’s struggles to find truth and justice feel relatable and make the story easy to escape into.
With some pieces of period literature, I’ve found myself spending more time in the dictionary and history books than in the actual novel. Spann included a glossary of terms and characters in the book, but I never once found myself having to refer to it. She makes her introductions flawlessly, and gives readers an easy entry into a complex story about warring Japanese clans in the 1500s!
The mystery itself is equally fun and captivating; both simple and elaborate. My favorite part about Betrayal at Iga was that the story’s complexities didn’t come from loud settings and red herrings.
Instead, the simple murder mystery develops its intricacies through Hiro’s basic interactions with the small, but entertaining cast of characters. Both Hiro’s shrewdness and his biases color the reader’s judgement and make the murder anything but a straightforward case, while still being fun to work through.
If you’re into Japanese culture and history, murder mysteries, and stories about family and friendships, Betrayal at Iga won’t disappoint you. With its amazing characters, stunning setting, thrilling mystery, a twist near the end that you definitely will not see coming (I promise), and even a little romance, it’s got everything you need!
‘Betrayal at Iga: A Hiro Hattori Novel’ giveaway
Contest will close at 11:59pm EST on Friday, July 14, 2017!