This is the third book of the Zenta and Matsuzo series by Lensey Namioka. Zenta and Matsuzo travel to visit the honored teacher of Zenta's youth, only to find the old warrior and the village terrorized by a force or forces unknown. They must help overcome a large gang of bandits and a madman who has brutally murdered four young women.
This book includes the following tropes:
- Hooks and Crooks: The villain's weapon is a grappling hook.
- Crashing Dreams: Matsuzo dreams of cats because he's hearing the villain speak through mutilated vocal cords, creating a yowling sound.
- Rōnin: Zenta and Matsuzo are both ronin.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: The bad guys made the village think it was being terrorized by a demon to cover up their operation.
- Seppuku: Appears in the ending chapters in a very moving scene where Zenta must serve as the second.