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Book Review


by John Donohue

St. Martin's Press
Hardcover 258 pages
$23.95 US

Review by Christopher Caile

'Sensei' is a fast paced, exciting thriller -- a fun read that pulls you into the intricacies, culture and contradictions of the Japanese mind played out through the martial arts.

The story is set in Brooklyn, NY, where college professor and martial artist Connor Burke becomes implicated in a murder of a prominent martial artist, Mitchell Reilly. Two NY homicide detectives pick Connor up as a suspect. One of the cops, Mick Burke, is his brother. But, they also need Connor for his expertise, for there are other martial artists who turn up too, murdered. Each was killed in ritualistic fashion in what looked like the result of a martial artist challenge. And in each case a cryptic message was left. Spelled out in Japanese characters was the word: Ronin (meaning masterless samurai).

As a senior student of a master swordsman (Itto-ryu), Yamashita Sensei (teacher), and a student of karate and judo, Connor provides the police with a unique portal into the elusive martial arts world.

As the plot unfolds, Connor acts as amateur sleuth and police assistant. But the action becomes much more intimate. He becomes caught in a narrowing vortex of murder and intrigue, a world of ritual, honor and revenge in which he must test his training against the ultimate fear -death.

There is the clear cut action, suspense and tension of a well executed karate kata, except in this case the practitioner is not alone. The enemy is real, and he is closing in.

Only an author well versed in the martial arts could succeed in such an intimate portrayal of the Japanese mind, an explanation of psychology and tradition of martial arts. The story confronts this Japanese martial tradition of honor, loyalty and culture against western police tactics and procedures - and Connor is in the middle.

With so many novels full of inaccuracies and misunderstandings about the martial arts, it's a pleasure to find one written by an author whose experience and background adequately portrays them.

Fans of oriental mysteries or martial arts tales will love this well executed book full of twists, sub-plots and excitement. And expect Connor Burke to appear again in future novels.

Read an excerpt from the book.

Sensei is available in the Estore


By John Donohue
(258 Pages, Hardbound)

(Plus $5.00 Shipping Within US)

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

martial arts fiction, martial arts, Itto-ryu, sensei, martial arts thriller

Read more articles by Christopher Caile

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