Book Review: Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

Claws of the Cat
Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Admittedly, it’s been over a year since I read Susan Spann’s debut novel, Claws of the Cat. The biggest side effect (I know of, at least) of being a reader and writer for a living is that the constant Victoria Falls of new stories, characters, plots, and worlds that submerge my brain tend to make them all jumble and slosh into sometimes indistinguishable tales.

Not so with Claws of the Cat.

Set in Kyoto, Japan in the fifteen hundreds, Claws of the Cat is a crime fiction mystery and the story of two men, a shinobi in disguise, and his ward, whom he is sworn to protect, a Portugeuse-born Jesuit priest, both drawn into investigating the brutal murder of a samurai in a local teahouse. If the mystery remains unsolved, the price is the Jesuit’s life.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, But I don’t know a thing about fifteenth-century Japan. The beauty of Susan’s storytelling is her talent for drawing readers into this rich and culturally intriguing world with delicacy and subtlety, and her stripped-down, dry-witted style is the perfect complement to her equally sharp-as-a-tack and canny main characters, Hiro Hattori and Father Matteo. When you’ve finished reading Claws of the Cat, you will feel as if you’ve taken a minivacation, both in time and place, to old-world Kyoto, sipped tea in the local teahouses of the Pontocho District, felt mud from the streets squishing beneath your getas, barely dodged the lethal swipe of neko-tes wielded by an adept and dangerous kunoichi, and plotted conspiratorially over cups of sake against the shogunate with other rulerless, wild ronin. In short, this is a whodunnit mystery that will paint your imagination vivid, rare, and intoxicating colors. Don’t miss it! And most exciting of all, the follow-up novel, Blade of the Samurai, is coming soon.

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9 comments

  1. This sounds awesome. I’ve been soaking up most anything Shogun-era Japan, so thanks for pointing me toward this.

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    1. You’re welcome! You’ll be hooked, I’m certain.

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  2. I always love books that take me to new places and cultures I don’t know. Especially when they are well written. Thank you for your review, I will be adding Claws Of The Cat to my readinglist. And I must say that somehow me sipping my own tea right now makes me want to read this book even more… ;)

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    1. Wonderful! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

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  3. Great review, although you really must stop reviewing such good books. My ‘to read’ pile is getting longer and longer…

    One question – any idea why the book is so expensive at the moment (nearly $20 from amazon.com or £12 from amazon.co.uk. Even higher at Kobo)??

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    1. Hi! I don’t know why it’s that expensive. It is a traditionally published novel through Minotaur, part of Macmillan, but is the ebook that much too? Maybe Susan knows. I’ll ask her.

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      1. Those are the ebook prices!! Hardcover was a dollar or so more. Its on my wish list, but I think I’ll wait for it to drop in price a tad ;-)

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  4. […] and holds on relentlessly until the last page is turned. The first book in Susan’s series, Claws of the Cat, hooked me instantly with its marvelous characters and rich world, and Blade of the Samurai kept me […]

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  5. […] Shinobi Mysteries and writing in general. Before diving in, I must say how much I love her books Claws of the Cat and Blade of the Samurai (read my reviews to know more about them); they’re they kinds of […]

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