Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Claws of the Cat (Shinobi Mystery, #1)” as Want to Read:
Claws of the Cat (Shinobi Mystery, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Claws of the Cat (Shinobi Mystery #1)

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  374 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of ...more
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Minotaur Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Claws of the Cat, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Claws of the Cat

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia BracewellOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe King's Agent by Donna Russo MorinHer Highness, the Traitor by Susan HigginbothamVenus in Winter by Gillian Bagwell
Historical Novel Society 2013
18th out of 44 books — 79 voters
The Help by Kathryn StockettThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsGone Girl by Gillian FlynnThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk KiddWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Best Beach Reads 2013
337th out of 2,334 books — 4,284 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dan Schwent
Jul 01, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
When a retired samurai is found murdered in a tea house, his son demands his honor be satisfied and he is bent on killing the tea house girl his father was found with. Jesuit priest Matteo stands up for Sayuri and buys her an additional three days of life while Hiro, his shinobi bodyguard, tracks down the real killer. But if Hiro can't, Matteo will be executed along with her...

Claws of the Cat is a historical mystery set in 16th century Japan. I don't remember where I first heard of it but a mys
Jul 03, 2013 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Claws of the Cat was received as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

It is very rare for me to find a mystery worthy of 5 stars anymore; too many of them follow a cookie cutter pattern. So I was delighted to find that Susan Spann has broken the mold with Claws of the Cat and written an intriguing and fascinating mystery. Spann’s writing paints such a wonderful picture of Kyoto, Japan in the 16th century that the reader feels like they are there. Her characters are real and believable and the intera
Judith Starkston
Jul 17, 2013 Judith Starkston rated it really liked it
I love books that take me to a time and place I know little about and then make that setting utterly real to me. When the author also spins a mystery that won’t let go of me, then I’ve found a great read: Susan Spann’s Claws of the Cat. Spann takes us to Japan during the period of samurais and limited contact with the West. Her two “sleuths” are a most unlikely pair. Hiro, a shinobi assassin (think ninjas for the most part), is living undercover as the protector of Father Mateo, a Jesuit priest ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Janet rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to read this amazing jewel of historical fiction before it went off to the publishers. Ms. Spann's descriptions of 16th century Japan are as as clean as a well-swept bamboo floor and as delicate as a cherry blossom-scented breeze.

Hiro, the uh..hero-- of the story is a completely new type of character. A Ninja detective... I mean...Do I need to say more?

The relationship between Hiro and his charge, the Spanish Catholic priest, Father Mateo steals the show. And this in a no
Mark Stevens
Nov 12, 2013 Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing
We’re in 16th century, medieval Japan. Kyoto. There’s a problem of the retired samurai who’s been violently attacked in a teahouse and left to die, his loincloth so soaked with blood that it is stuck to his hips. His throat is “ruined.” The vase holding hydrangeas is spattered with blood. The suspect list is short. At least, at first. There’s certainly an obvious suspect and there’s a nifty ticking clock—a local magistrate concedes to a few days of grace to figure out who wielded the knife and ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Ronna rated it it was amazing
This new mystery series is set in 16th century Japan and is full of interesting new words and the culture of the times. The heroes are an interesting pair. Father Mateo, a Jesuit Priest, and Hero, a master shinobi ( what we think of as a ninja), who is sworn to protect the Father.

When a samurai is murdered in a local Kyota teahouse, the lovely young "entertainer" calls upon the Father to prove her innocence. The murdered man's son is furious and wants immediate revenge --the death of the enterta
Jun 29, 2016 Weina rated it it was amazing
I confess novels set in Asia, either in China, Japan, India, or Malaysia, attract my attention more than other settings, and I have a tendency to pause and read more about the authors who write them, especially if they are not Asian and were not born into the culture. So when I met Susan Spann a few years ago and heard she wrote Japanese mystery, I just couldn't forget her, for she was not Japanese, to begin with.
I was curious to see how she would approach Hiro, the detective who's a shinobi, c
Anashi Sterling
Jul 11, 2013 Anashi Sterling rated it liked it
I won this book through the First Reads Giveaway.

I was hesitant to read this book at first because I am very fond of all things Japanese and as such, I tend to be very critical of things that are poorly researched or don't live up to my expectations of the culture.
This book was very well researched but sometimes I felt that the author was a little overly descriptive for no other reason than to prove that the research had been done.
That being said I did like the story line and found the mystery
Stephanie Jewett
First in a new series. I really liked the setting- medieval Japan is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "cozy mystery", but there it is. A Portugese priest and his shinobi bodyguard investigate the murder of a samurai at a local teahouse, where one of the priest's recent converts is the main suspect.

The writing style is spare, but I had no trouble imagining the setting. Tantalizing hints of Hiro's past are dropped, but frustratingly not followed up on; I am guessing
Julianne Douglas
Jul 18, 2013 Julianne Douglas rated it it was amazing
How much do you know about sixteenth century history outside the borders of Europe? If you're like me, surprisingly (and embarrassingly) little. As a remedy, I recommend a just-published historical mystery that opens up the exotic, fascinating world of sixteenth century Japan.

Susan Spann's debut mystery novel CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur/St. Martin's Press) whisks the reader away to the land of ninjas, teahouses, samurai and missionaries. Writing with the spare beauty of an oriental flower arrange
Aimie Runyan
Oct 07, 2013 Aimie Runyan rated it it was amazing
This review delves into the world of Susan Spann’s CLAWS OF THE CAT. A Shinobi mystery set in the 1500s, my little historian’s heart was captivated. We have a cast of compelling characters:

Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest who is ministering to the Japanese people,
Matsui Hiro, his Shinobi bodyguard who also proves to be a worthy detective,
Sayuri, the beautiful entertainer who is a prime suspect for a murder
Akechi Hideyoshi: The samurai murdered in an upper class tea house
Akechi Nobuh
Tammy Salyer
Mar 03, 2015 Tammy Salyer rated it it was amazing
Admittedly, it’s been over a year since I read Susan Spann’s debut novel, Claws of the Cat. The biggest side effect (I know of, at least) of being a reader and writer for a living is that the constant Victoria Falls of new stories, characters, plots, and worlds that submerge my brain tend to make them all jumble and slosh into sometimes indistinguishable tales.

Not so with Claws of the Cat.

Set in Kyoto, Japan in the fifteen hundreds, Claws of the Cat is a crime fiction mystery and the story of t
Aug 30, 2013 Tinney rated it it was amazing
Absorbed in this page-turner, I had no idea how much I was learning about 16th century Japan until I finished the book. I admire the author's skill in achieving this result so elegantly. The reader really does need every bit of this information for maximum enjoyment, and at no time did it ever feel like a tedious slog through unnecessary data, or present me with anything I felt tempted to skip – quite the contrary, I would have been happy to pick up a sequel right away and learn more about this ...more
Marci Jefferson
Jul 16, 2013 Marci Jefferson rated it it was amazing
After reading an early review copy of Claws of the Cat, I give it five enthusiastic stars! Hiro lives up to the sound of his name as an undercover shinobi striving to fulfill his mission; protect the Portuguese priest Father Mateo. But sixteenth century Japan is fraught with war lords and ninja assassins, some who would stop at nothing to oust the foreign priest and his accompanying merchants. When a cold blooded murder at a local tea house is nearly blamed on Father Mateo, the victim’s family ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Janet rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings. While the book provides a very detailed look at the customs and day-to-today life of feudal Japan, to me the characters sound like they’re from modern times. I was constantly having to remind myself that this was set in the 1500s. If you don’t mind the occasional modern turn of phrase, though, this book offers a satisfying glimpse into a little-known—to Westerners at least—world.
Janyre Tromp
Aug 17, 2016 Janyre Tromp rated it really liked it
Set in the samurai era of Japan, this entertaining book kept my interest from start to finish. The author did a fabulous job of infusing the culture into the story without making it confusing for a Western reader unfamiliar with the setting. I'm a sucker for clean mysteries and odd settings. And it helps that the two sleuths are engaging and interesting. I wish Father Mateo were a bit more fleshed out, but I suspect that it is coming. A well-crafted first book.
Steve Goble
Oct 31, 2016 Steve Goble rated it really liked it
Great period detail, a solid mystery and smooth prose. Very well researched.

A Western priest becomes embroiled in a murder when a young woman he has been teaching about Christianity is the prime suspect, and his ninja companion must help solve the crime to protect his friend. Engaging stuff, and I look forward to reading more in this series.
Jul 12, 2014 Marlene rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

This was awesome. Full stop. The setting is unusual and the detectives are surprising and possibly unique. The mystery is intricate and it is marvelous to play along with a mystery that doesn’t (and can’t) rely on modern forensics. It’s all down to human ingenuity and human intelligence.

Also, of course, human greed.

The story takes place in 16th Japan, during the years known as the Warring States period. This was a period when rival clans were attempting, an
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: daniele

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele

In the early morning hours, Portuguese Jesuit priest Mateo is called to attend to one of his flock at a reputable tea house. Sayuri, one of the house’s entertainers (geisha), is being held as the only murder suspect when one of her regular patrons, a retired general from the Shogun’s army named Akechi Hideyoshi , is found brutally murdered in her quarters. Some of his wounds resemble claw marks made by a weapon favored
Rosalind Hartmann
Jun 07, 2013 Rosalind Hartmann rated it it was amazing

Shinobi – Literally, “shadowed person.”

It starts with the main introduction of the two main characters. Father Mateo and his scribe and translator Hiro, who happens to be a high ranking samurai. Immediately you get the impression that the relationship is student to master, but it’s far from it. In fact, it very much reminds me of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as the story progresses.

Father Mateo is a Portuguese priest teaching the Christian faith in Japan
Debra Daniels-zeller
Sep 26, 2016 Debra Daniels-zeller rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I loved the unique setting of this mystery--16th century Koyto Japan--and the way Susan Spann writes about it made me feel as if I was there. Even the way she weaves in details the clothing are interesting. The basic story is a retired samauri is murdered at a local tea house and a woman "entertainer" is suspected at the murderer. Two main characters Hiro and Father Mateo (a Portugese priest) are a bit like Sherlock Holmes and Watson. It's seemed that the kitten is a clue in the beginning, but ...more
Sep 06, 2013 Mouse rated it liked it
Disclaimer--I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

Pardon my rambling review, but I finished reading within minutes of writing this, and want to write before I fall asleep and have time to forget my impressions of the book. It seems that a lot of reviewers have already summarized the plot, so I'll keep that part brief: A priest and a shinobi walk into a teahouse, where a samurai was recently murdered.

I enjoyed reading it, and it was a fairly quick read (less than 5 hours, including interr
Hiro Hattori is a samurai assisting a visiting Jesuit priest as his personal translator. At least as far as the official story goes. Actually a master ninja assigned to protect Father Mateo, Hiro's job becomes much more complicated when the good natured priest ties his fate to that of an accused murderer, leaving Hiro three days to find the true killer to save them both.

Claws of the Cat is an excellent mystery set in 16th century Japan. The setting is not just a backdrop. The characters, their c
Sep 06, 2014 Carolynne rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, mystery
I won this in a First-reads drawing.

Hiro is honor bound to protect the Portuguese priest, Father Mateo, whose life is on the line. He is trying to protect a Geisha accused of murder, and unless he discovers the true murderer within three days, both priest and Geisha will be executed by the son of the murdered man, which will cost Hiro his life, as well. This was an interesting mystery, full of twists and turns, which kept me reading. I finished it in three sittings.

However, I found it unsatisfyi
CLAWS OF THE CAT is a debut novel and the first in a series. The series is certainly off to a promising start, I mean to say, a Ninja detective! How cool is that? When the murder occurs Hiro, a master Ninja, wants nothing to do with it and advises Father Mateo not to go to the teahouse when the suspected murderess, a member of his flock, asks for help. But once the Priest gets involved ends up being told if he can’t prove the woman’s innocence then he too will die Hiro becomes involved, as he ...more
Nov 11, 2014 Katherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Having won the second installment of this series from Goodreads, read and reviewed it, I decided to buy the first book in the series. I have not been disappointed. In this episode, a rich, older samurai has been killed in the room of one of the entertainers, a recent convert to Catholicism. Father Mateo is determined to find the murderer, not believing as the dead man's son and policeman does, that the young girl has committed the crime. He convinces the policeman to give him two days in which ...more
Jennifer Hendzlik
Aug 28, 2013 Jennifer Hendzlik rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
"Never rely on assumptions," Hiro said. "The last one always kills you."

Matsui Hiro, a shinobi or master ninja in 16th century Japan has his hands full. He has been placed in charge of Father Mateo, a Christian Missionary from Portugal, who has been granted special access to minister. When a Kyoto Samurai is murdered in a teahouse, Sayuri, the teahouse entertainer with him claims she woke up to find him dead. With no proof of her innocence, the son of the victim is ready to take swift vengeance,
First Sentence: Father Mateo strolled through the narrow yard, hands folded and face cast down in meditation.

Portuguese priest Father Mateo has sworn to protect Sayuri, a beautiful tea house entertainer accused of murdering her samurai client. The priest has only two days to prove her innocence or both she, and the priest, will be executed. Master ninja Hiro, translator and protector of Father Mateo, must work to keep them both alive.
From the beginning, we learn about the culture, hierarchies a
Aug 13, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-shelf, e-book
Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann is a Minotaur Press publication - a division of St. Martin's Press. This book was published in July 2013.

Hiro, a ninja, working undercover to protect a Jesuit Priest finds himself in middle of a big mess, when a Samurai is murdered in the Sakura Teahouse, a young woman that recently became a convert of Father Mateo, is accused of the crime. Father Mateo is convinced she is innocent. The Samurai's son is convinced she is guilty and gives Hiro and Father Mateo two d
Hiro is a ninja commanded to protect a Portuguese Catholic Priest named Father Mateo in 16th century Japan. Father Mateo gets involved in a murder investigation with one of his followers. Hiro and must find the true killer or not only will Father Mateo’s follower be killed, but so will the Father. The family of the murdered has the right to vengeance against the killer. “Claws of the Cat” is Susan Spann’s debut historical fiction/mystery novel.

Overall I enjoyed this novel. The historical facts w
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Shadow of the Alchemist (Crispin Guest, #6)
  • Death of a Schoolgirl (The Jane Eyre Chronicles, #1)
  • Sacred Games (The Athenian Mysteries, #3)
  • The Tomb of Zeus (Laetitia Talbot, #1)
  • The Eloquence of Blood (Charles Du Luc, #2)
  • Strangled in Paris: A Victor Legris Mystery
  • Murder and Moonshine (Moonshine Mystery, #1)
  • The Arnifour Affair (Colin Pendragon Mysteries, #1)
  • The Seance Society
  • What Darkness Brings (Sebastian St. Cyr, #8)
  • Mrs Pargeter's Principle (Mrs Pargeter, #7)
  • Murder By The Sea (Libby Sarjeant Mysteries)
  • Year of the Demon (Fated Blades, #2)
  • Cursed in the Act (Bram Stoker Mystery #1)
  • Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple, #21)
  • Skating Under the Wire (Rebecca Robbins, #4)
  • Kawaii!: Japan's Culture of Cute
  • Detroit Shuffle
Author of the Hiro Hattori Novels (Shinobi Mysteries), featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo.

CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013)
Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month
Silver Falchion Finalist: Best First Novel

BLADE OF THE SAMURAI (Minotaur Books, 2014)

FLASK OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER (Minotaur Books, July 2015)

More about Susan Spann...

Other Books in the Series

Shinobi Mystery (5 books)
  • Blade of the Samurai (Shinobi Mystery, #2)
  • Flask of the Drunken Master (Shinobi Mystery, #3)
  • The Ninja's Daughter (Shinobi Mystery, #4)
  • Betrayal at Iga (Shinobi Mystery #5)

Share This Book