There is no better guide to Kyoto, Japan than acclaimed mystery writer, Susan Spann. Her Shinobi mysteries take us far beyond the tourist spots to the hidden corners of the city where intrigue abounds. Come along!
In Japan, ancient culture and modern technology coexist in a manner you rarely see elsewhere in the world. Tokyo’s massive neon skyscrapers rise around Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines established during the 8th and 9th centuries, and Kyoto has been a center of Japanese culture for thousands of years.
Historically, Kyoto was home to a number of hanamachi or “flower towns” where geisha lived, trained, and entertained (mostly male) patrons in the district’s many teahouses and restaurants. Although famous for their beauty, geisha were not prostitutes. Their primary functions were singing, dancing, and engaging patrons in conversation during meals. Geisha still exist today, and if you visit Kyoto, you can tour the remaining hanamachi and see where real geisha (or “geiko”) live and train, as well as watch a performance of traditional dances. If you find yourself in Japan, it’s definitely worth the trip!
All photos courtesy of Susan Spann
All About Claws of the Cat and Susan Spann
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.
The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto's floating world, where they learn that everyone from the elusive teahouse owner to the dead man's dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai's death a mystery. A rare murder weapon favored by ninja assassins, a female samurai warrior, and a hidden affair leave Hiro with too many suspects and far too little time. Worse, the ninja's investigation uncovers a host of secrets that threaten not only Father Mateo and the teahouse, but the very future of Japan.
Susan Spann began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).
A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.