Deb Kelly gets out her cocktail shaker to celebrate CLAWS!

Have you heard the news? It’s Deb Susan’s launch week! Claws of the Cat hit the stands yesterday, and Shinobi Mania starts today. What the bleep is a shinobi, you ask? Yeah, been there. Until I read CLAWS OF THE CAT. Now I know that Ninja, that word with the awesomest of connotations, is actually a Chinese-influenced translation of Japanese characters. (Susan, did I get that right? Boy am I ever out of my wheelhouse.) So say shinobi instead, and look extra smart. Then read Susan’s book–and get smarter while you’re being entertained at the same time in a funny, surprising and downright sophisticated mystery that will keep you guessing to the very last page.

Shinobi–mercenaries, spies, trained assassins with super-cool weapons–feature in highly in Susan Spann’s new mystery series. Especially one witty, savvy, super-smart shinobi named Hiro, who you will come to wish would move in with you for the purposes of protection, companionship, and occasional silent revenge.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say you invite a shinobi into your home. It could be a guy like Hiro, or it could be a lady-shinobi, who are called kunoichi as I learned in CLAWS. (Susan, we get a sequel with a kunoichi match/rival for Hiro someday, right? Pretty please?) How do you entertain a heartless but exceedingly well-mannered killer with nerves of steel?

Well, you could just serve him the foods he already knows. Sake, a delicious rice beer with a dangerous and shinobi-like ability to sneak up on you, matcha tea served very very thick, and fermented fish with a side of seven kinds of potatoes might do it.


You could see what he thinks of modern fusion cuisine and offer him a gorgeous platter of hand-rolled sushi (temaki) Americanized with avocado, slivered cucumber, crab, and a bit of roe; rice-stuffed inari (tofu) skin dipped in a vegan dashi; and a nice icy cold matcha tea ice cream for desert. Stick in a red bean cookie or two and you’ve got a very happy shinobi (or book club, if your shinobi stands you up).

And to drink?

A sake-tini, of course. Here’s one I like. Pick a sake that costs about what you would spend on a bottle of red wine for your boss, says the word “Ginjo” on it, and looks pretty to you. Serve it straight up, in a black martini glass if you can find one.

Claws of the Cat Martini

Sake (see above)

Pear juice–buy the 100% kind or juice it yourself if you feel intrepid

Fizzy water


Coat the glass with vermouth and dump the extra (back into the bottle. Good vermouth is expensive). In a cocktail shaker, mix two and a half ounces of ice-cold sake, one ounce of pear juice, and some ice. Strain into the glass and top off with a splash of seltzer. I like my drinks dry. If you or your shinobi don’t, substitute elderflower or pear liqueur for dry vermouth.

And in homage to Claws of the Cat, add a twist at the end.

Happy reading, eating and drinking! And congratulations to Deb Susan on her triumphant launch!



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