In Darkness, Death is the award wining third installment of Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler’s Samurai Mysteries series. I described the first book Ghost in the Tokaido Inn as eerie and the second book Demon in the Teahouse as unpredictable and it seems that this book is a combination of the two.
Judge Ooka and his son Seikei investigate the murder of a Samurai Lord named Inaba who was killed while under protection of the Shogun. The only clue in this mysterious case is an origami butterfly stained with the blood of the victim. The usually brilliant Judge Ooka starts to put the bits and pieces together and soon sends Seikei and a forcibly recruited retired ninja named Tatsuno on a mission far away from the scene of the crime. Who murdered Lord Inaba? Can Tatsuno be trusted? Will the murderer retaliate against his pursuers? What is the significance of the blood stained origami butterfly? These questions and a lot more will be answered by the end of the adventure.
All about Ninja and a lot more mature
The first book was heavy on references to Samurai, the second focused on Geisha but In Darkness, Death was all about Ninja – covert agents or mercenaries of feudal Japan specializing in unorthodox arts of war such as espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, as well as open combat in certain situations. There was also a sense of maturity in this book with Seikei exposed to a lot more danger and a lot more action, fighting and of course death. To be honest I wasn’t sold on this book initially but it got better with each page and by the end of it I have to admire the pacing and the as usual the excellent historical references. Tatsuno stands out as a great addition to the characters in the series as his story from his introduction to his departure and all the references to ninja and their abilities added a lot to the maturing story of Seikei and the experienced Judge Ooka. I am looking forward to the forth book in the series titled The Sword that Cut the Burning Grass so be on the lookout for my review of it in the coming weeks.