When a vengeful spirit terrorizes a mountain village, a ninja and a Jesuit must save the villagers from the phantom’s wrath.
January 1566: En route to Edo, Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo spend the night in a rural mountain village whose inhabitants live in terror of a legendary vengeful ghost. When the innkeeper's wife is murdered and Father Mateo’s housekeeper, Ana, is blamed for a crime she did not commit, Hiro and Father Mateo are forced to investigate and reveal the truth. But when another woman turns up murdered in the snow, the detectives must face the shocking truth that the vengeful yurei the villagers fear might be more than just a legend after all.
In Spann's atmospheric, meticulously researched seventh mystery set in 16th-century Japan (after 2018's Trial on Mount Koya), master ninja Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit friend, Fr. Mateo vila de Santos, set out with the priest's irascible housekeeper for a desolate mountain village on a mission to find a female ninja and warn her that she's in danger. Stopping at an inn for the night, they find themselves immersed in a family drama. It's the anniversary of the death of Riko, the innkeeper Noboru's sister, and Ishiko, their mother, is on her way to leave an offering at Riko's grave. In the morning, Ishiko is found dead, and the villagers are convinced that Riko's ghost, who has been blamed for other deaths, is the culprit. "Vengeful spirits did not kill this woman," Hiro says. "She was strangled." His investigations immerse readers in Japanese culture and history, greatly enhancing the nicely plotted mystery. Spann also slips in and swiftly defines Japanese words without breaking the narrative flow. Historical mystery fans will be well satisfied.