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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Another Shinobi Mystery--Involving The Flask of the Drunken Master!

Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery (Shinobi Mystery, #3)Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery by Susan Spann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Father Mateo and Hiro out in the early morning to get noodles from Hiro's favorite street cart come across the discovery of a dead sake brewer in the alley outside the back door of another brewer, Ginjiro. Allowed to inspect the scene the two discover a broken sake flask bearing Ginjiro's seal and a man with a head violently bashed in. The police immediately arrest Ginjiro since the location and the broken flask both point to him as the murderer.

Neither Hiro nor Father Mateo think this immediate conclusion is necessarily the most logical. With the entreaty of Ginjiro's daughter to prove her father innocent, the Portuguese Jesuit and his samurai protector, in the guise of translator and scribe, set out to do just that. Many have motive to kill the man and, with just four days granted by the magistrate to investigate the murder, they have little time to waste as they search for a missing merchant, investigate the man's spendthrift son,visit with the man's partner and the man's wife, interview a vicious female samurai debt collector and a female moneylender, among others in the various neighborhoods of Kyoto.

Throughout their investigation, Hiro must follow the etiquette rules of his class and Japanese culture, which do not inhibit the Jesuit at all, much to Hiro's discomfort. Still, not being bound by such rigid behavior, Mateo is free to be impolite and is forgiven his faux pas because he is an uncultured foreigner. Still, there are moments when his unbridled questioning place the two sleuths in less than safe circumstances. Nevertheless, through stealth and cunning, they are able to solve, once more a baffling case.

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