For those mystery lovers who are always looking for a new and intriguing setting for mysteries, Susan Spann is an author worth checking out. Her Shinobi mysteries, of which Claws of the Cat is the first, are set in 16th century Japan, and the crime-solvers are Hiro Hattori, a ninja, and Father Mateo, a Portguese Jesuit missionary.
When a samurai is found dead in a teahouse, Father Mateo gets involved because the young geisha accused of the murder is one of his converts. The dead man’s son insists that his father’s death be avenged, and sets a deadline: if Father Mateo cannot prove the girl’s innocence within three days, he will be killed along with her. This lends some urgency to the mystery as Hiro and Father Mateo work together to find out who the real killer is.
I loved the detailed setting and the sense of stepping into another world. I would have liked to get to know both Hiro and Father Mateo better as more fully fleshed-out characters, but as this is the first in a series, more character development may follow in the later books I haven’t read yet.