by John Donohue
St. Martin's Minotaur, April, 2003.
Hardcover, 288 pages.
Someone is criss-crossing the USA, killing revered martial arts teachers, leaving the word "Ronin" scrawled on the walls, which means masterless samurai in Japanese. Dr. Connor Burke, an adjunct history instructor at a small university, is also a martial arts expert who studies with the revered Yamashita Sensei. When the murders move to the East Coast, Connor's brother Mickey, a NYPD detective, is assigned to the case and asks Connor for his help in interviewing the notoriously tightlipped martial arts community. When it becomes clear that the murderer is killing the best of the best, Connor is convinced that his teacher knows more about the killer than he is saying. Connor himself becomes a suspect in the killings, because of his high skill level. Now Connor must find this vengeance-seeking Ronin before he kills again.
First time author John Donohue neatly executes this novel which combines detective fiction with the culture of Japanese martial arts. Donohue takes readers behind the scenes into the closed world of the high-level martial arts practitioners: the code of honor and silence, the rigid rules and the incredible skills that are honed over a lifetime of study and practice. The fight scenes are authentic and well-executed and the characters ring true in this outstanding debut.
Sensei is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the November-December, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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