Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery
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Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery (Shinobi Mystery #1)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  189 ratings  ·  83 reviews
May 1564: When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro has no desire to get involved. But the beautiful entertainer accused of the crime enlists the help of Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit Hiro is sworn to protect, leaving the master shinobi with just three days to find the killer in order to save the girl and the priest from execution.

ebook, 288 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Minotaur Books
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Dan Schwent
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...more
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...more
Judith Starkston
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
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...more
Mark Stevens
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 l...more
Julianne Douglas
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...more
Anashi Sterling
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...more
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
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 w...more
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...more
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.
Karen Siddall
When one of Father Mateo’s congregation, the lovely, young entertainer in a geisha house, is accused of the murder of one of the samurai patrons; Matsui Hiro, Father Mateo’s Japanese translator/bodyguard (and undercover shinobi or ninja) lends his skills to find the real killer. The murdered man’s son gives the pair 3 days to discover the murderer or face death as part of the son’s traditional revenge.

This is a great mystery set in 16th century Japan, and you can almost feel, hear and smell the

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...more
A quick, suspenseful read with lots of interesting details into the lives and history of Japanese culture. I'm so pleased this will be a series as I am really intrigued with Hiro, and want to learn about his past and why he has the lowly (for a Shinobi) job of guarding a simple priest.

I do regret reading on Nook, as I was Googling dialect and customs - only to discover the author DID include a reference guide at back of book. When the next book comes out I will get the paper-bound so I can easil...more
Tammy Salyer
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...more
A Portugese Jesuit priest and the ninja sworn to protect him in 16th century Japan seem like an unlikely pair of detectives. However, in this quick but enjoyable read they are pulled into solving the mystery of a dead samurai murdered in a high-class tea house. Is the beautiful but virginal entertainer the culprit? Or the tea house owner who definitely has something to hide? Or how about the impoverished brother who might benefit from his siblings' death? This novel captures the culture and mor...more
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 ha...more
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...more
Jennifer Hendzlik
"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,...more
Claws of the Cat is set in 16th century Japan and features Hiro, a Ninja detective, and Father Mateo, a Portuguese Catholic priest. It is the first in a new series, and I look forward to more.

Hiro has been sworn to protect Father Mateo, who is not always familiar with cultural norms and occasionally makes egregious social errors.

A young entertainer at a local teahouse requests Father Mateo's aid when she is discovered beside the body of a murdered samurai. Hiro doesn't want to get involved, but...more
Tiffany Heater
A murder mystery set in 16th century Japan, unraveled by a samurai and the Portuguese catholic priest he is sworn to protect. Susan Spann’s writing paints lasting imagery of teahouses, kimonos, flower blossoms and a tortoise shell colored kitten I was hoping would play a larger part in the book. This fast paced page turner acquaints the reader with Japanese customs as well as a glossary of terminology that I was grateful to discover is also outlined at the back of the book.

I am not really intere...more
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...more
Kim Rendfeld
Hiro, a shinobi (better known as a ninja in the English speaking world) is bound to protect Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. But Father Mateo sure isn’t making Hiro’s job easy. By coming to the aid of a female entertainer, Mateo puts his own life at risk when the victim’s hot-headed son swears revenge and will kill Mateo, too, if he can’t prove the entertainer’s innocence. Mateo will not turn away from the entertainer, a recent convert to Christianity and therefore his spiritual sister. Hiro h...more
This is the first book I've read by this author. I love Japanese placements and have read many including Genji Tales. But very few in this time period, which was mid-16th century. Elizabeth I was just then a queen on the other side of the world. And I couldn't help but compare the weaponry and the military conflict and connotations to power in those different cultures.

It was a bit hard for me to get into this tale, as the women, especially the women- they didn't seem knowable or very individual...more
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...more
Heidi Timmons
This is not just a mystery. It’s a journey to Japan in 1565. It’s suspense combined with the beauty of Japanese culture. I adore the Portuguese priest as a main character in the novel. It reminds me of the priest in The Pillars of the Earth. Such an interesting dichotomy between the main character samurai, Hiro, and a foreign priest, Father Mateo. I love books that teach and entertain. Claws of the Cat does both. The book is hard to put down. Every chapter ending makes you want to read on. The n...more
Aimie Runyan
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...more
I brought this book along on a trip to Cozumel and read it on the plane. I loved the historical setting. The research seemed thorough, the setting came alive, and I feel like I learned a lot about 16th century Japanese life. The ending was satisfying--which I really appreciate.

I got confused about who was who because the names of the victims family members were all so similar. I would have liked a little more internal thought on the part of the investigator as to who dunnit and why. When I read...more
An interesting mystery set in ancient Japan. Sayuri, an entertainer's (aka geisha),head is literally on the line when she is accused of killing a samurai. Father Mateo, a Portuguese priest, comes to her aid. When the son of the murdered samurai demands justice by beheading Sayuri. Father Mateo intervenes and insists she has the right, as a Christian, to have time to play prove her innocence. The son, Nobuhide, agrees but if the father and Hiro cannot find the real kill Sayuri and Mateo will both...more
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...more
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Author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo.

CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013)
a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month

BLADE OF THE SAMURAI (Minotaur Books, July 15, 2014)

FLASK OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER (Minotaur Books, Scheduled for July 2015)
More about Susan Spann...
Blade of the Samurai (Shinobi Mystery, #2) Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery (Shinobi Mystery, #3)

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