St. Martin's, Apr 2003, 23.95, 288 pp.
In Brooklyn, New York, Homicide Detectives Mick Burke and Art Pederson pick up the former's younger brother Connor for two reasons. First a witness Robert Akkadian testified that he saw first hand the bad blood between Connor and murder victim Mitchell Reilly. Second they need a martial arts expert, which, though the part time Dorian University professor would deny, he fits the bill.
The killer left his name in blood, “Ronin”, a masterless samurai. Due to an Internet link, the cops learn that Mitchell is not the first victim as the Los Angeles police share information with their New York counterparts that someone called Ronin killed an expert there. Other homicides follow with Connor and his SENSEI Master Yamashita trying to end the debacle by capturing the culprit.
SENSEI is an exciting thriller that is at its best when the sociology of the martial arts groups is explored. The amateur sleuth and police procedural subplots are also fun to observe, but seem red belt when compared to the black belt insightful interrelationships that John Donahue provides with fervor and pleasure. The victim's motives seem stretched (perhaps only to this couch potato). Fans of martial arts mysteries will relish this delightful tale and expect Connor to return in more top rate novels like this one.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner