The Ninja’s Daughter

This is the fourth book in the Hiro Hattori series, but the first I have read.

The story is set in 1565 Japan when you could not throw a stone without hitting a samurai warrior. With the death of the Shogun of Kyoto, everyone is either picking sides for the replacement or trying not to be noticed.

Hiro is duty bound to protect the Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo at all costs, even as the two of them become involved in investigating the murder of a teenage daughter of a family of actors. Not a good way to remain invisible, especially when they have been ordered not to investigate.

While Susan Spann is American, she has a degree in Asian Studies and has read extensively about Japan.

This is a first rate mystery. By the time Hiro unravels all the layers of lies to realize who murdered the girl, we the readers are certain it will never happen.

This is one of the fastest reads I have had in some time. Hard to put down. I’ll give her   5 stars.

Mike Lawrence

The Girl From Krakow

As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for WWII novels. What I liked best in this one was the injection of the philosophical debates swirling around Europe in the 1930’s. It is too easy in America to think the war just started from thin air. The reality is that there were many competing groups, parties, ideas, and beliefs, all wanting to take control. In the end it was a struggle between the fascist and communists, well portrayed in this book.

Rita Feuerstahl is the main character of the story, with a good deal of time spent with the two men in her life. Since all the characters are nominally Jewish, we can guess that life during the war years was difficult, and it was.

This is not a happy ending book, though the three do survive. The best we can say is that they all did what had to be done to survive.

My paperback version ran 442 pages. I think the book would have been at least as good if a hundred pages had been weeded out.

I give it a 4+.

Mike Lawrence