Hiro Hattori mysteries

Author: Spann, Susan

Publication Date:

2013 -2020



Original language and publisher


Crime & Thrillers, Historical Fiction

Hiro Hattori mysteries

Author: Spann, Susan

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch, French, and Nordic rights.
  • Rights sold: Bulgaria (Trud, 5-book deal), Hungary (Nuvion), Portugal (Clube do Autor)


“East meets West, spies dine with monks, and mind grapples with heart in a sixteenth-century locked-room mystery on a snowy mountain. Susan Spann hits perfection yet again.” —Laurie R. King, author of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and Island of the Mad

“A page-turning and atmospheric historical mystery that beautifully melds fascinating Japanese history with a cleverly constructed mystery reminiscent of And Then There Were None—if the famous Agatha Christie mystery had been set in medieval Japan on a sacred mountaintop during a snowstorm.” —Gigi Pandian, USA Today–bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries

“Susan Spann is up front in saying that Trial on Mount Koya is an homage to Agatha Christie. Believe me, she does the great Dame Agatha proud. This excellent entry in Spann’s series of Hiro Hattori mysteries offers plenty of esoteric clues and red herrings that are fun to chase. Along the way, she even does Christie one better, giving readers a fascinating glimpse of life and religion in feudal Japan. This is a book sure to please Spann’s growing legion of fans as well as anyone who loves the work of Agatha Christie.” —William Kent Krueger, Edgar® Award–winning author of Sulfur Springs

“Spann writes with careful attention to dialogue and setting. Though the interactions feel contemporary, each scene is set like a paneled Japanese painting from the era. Fans of this series, and of similar series set in medieval Japan by Laura Joh Rowland and I. J. Parker, will appreciate Spann’s clever homage to the locked-room mystery.”—Booklist

“Spann keeps getting better…Fans of classic whodunits will be pleased.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Hiro and Father Mateo … make a remarkable crime-solving team.” — Library Journal

“Sharp, well-integrated mystery.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Spann once more shows herself as a master storyteller. A nail-biting tale of ninja assassins and a man who must choose between honor and his family in feudal Japan.”

— Cara Black, New York Times–bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc Investigations

“Steeped in the lore of samurai culture and ninja stealth…compelling, exotic, and irresistible.” — Barry Lancet, award-winning author of Japantown and Pacific Burn

“Spann portrays 16th century Japan with a love of detail and a setting that never swamps the vivid characters and the story.” — Lisa Brackmann, bestselling author of Rock Paper Tiger and Go-Between

“Unique and endearing characters, vivid scenes, and shocking twists.” — Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon

“Spann mixes history, suspense, and folklore to great effect … a great pleasure to read.” — Sujata Massey, author of The Widows of Malabar Hill

Susan’s first novel, Claws of the Cat (Minotaur 2013) was named a Library Journal mystery debut of the month and was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel. The second and third mysteries, Blade of the Samurai (Minotaur 2014) and Flask of the Drunken Master (Minotaur 2015), also released to widespread critical and reader acclaim. In 2016, Susan’s series moved to Seventh Street Books with the fourth instalment, The Ninja’s Daughter, and it was followed in 2017 by Betrayal at Iga. Trial on Mount Koya, releasing in July, will be followed by two more – one each in summer 2019 and 2020.

Book 1-Claws of the Cat: May 1564

When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.

Book 2-Blade of the SamuraiJune, 1565

When a killer murders the shogun’s cousin, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are summoned to the shogun’s palace and ordered to find the killer. The evidence implicates Hiro’s friend and fellow shinobi, Kazu, who was working undercover at the shogunate; however, the victim’s wife, a suspicious maid, and even the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want the victim dead. With enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.

 Book 3-Flask of the Drunken MasterAugust 1565

When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim’s spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger.

 Book 4-The Ninja’s DaughterAutumn, 1565

When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace—but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

Book 5-Betrayal at IGA: Autumn, 1565

After fleeing Kyoto, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo take refuge with Hiro’s ninja clan in the mountains of Iga province. But when an ambassador from the rival Koga clan is murdered during peace negotiations, Hiro and Father Mateo must find the killer in time to prevent a war between the ninja clans.

With every suspect a trained assassin, and the evidence incriminating not only Hiro’s commander, the infamous ninja Hattori Hanzo, but also Hiro’s mother and his former lover, the detectives must struggle to find the truth in a village where deceit is a cultivated art. As tensions rise, the killer strikes again, and Hiro finds himself forced to choose between his family and his honor.

Book 6-Trial on Mount Koya: November 1565

Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head to Mount Koya, and find themselves embroiled in a mystery at a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan’s most sacred peaks. Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple atop Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead

Susan Spann is currently living in Japan. She closed her law practice and sold the house she and her husband called home for 14 years and moved into a rental for two months while waiting on her visa application to move to Japan. She is taking a sabbatical year to become the first American woman over 45 to climb the nihon hyakumeizan (hundred famous mountains of Japan). This endeavor may seem crazy but what’s even crazier is after she committed to doing this and signed a contract for a book about her upcoming year (with Prometheus Books) she was diagnosed with cancer, a very aggressive form of cancer, and had to pause; to fight the cancer and endure chemotherapy.  She’s triumphed.  And she’s there now.  Read her blog 100 Summits.

Susan is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year, a former president of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (National and Sacramento chapters), the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.