Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: The Kensei by Jon F. Merz

Book Description:

Meet Lawson. A cynical, wise-cracking vampire charged with protecting the Balance between vampires and humans, he is part cop, part spy, and part commando — James Bond with fangs. Lawson mixes shrewd cunning with unmatched lethality to get his job done. He tries his best to dismantle conspiracies, dispatch bad guys, and live long enough to get home. In The Kensei, a battle-weary Lawson heads to Japan for a little rest and some advanced ninja training. But he no sooner steps off the plane than lands in the midst of a Yakuza turf war orchestrated by a shadowy figure known as the Kensei. With the help of Talya, a former KGB-assassin, Lawson must put a stop to the Kensei’s organ trafficking networks, prevent the creation of an army of vampire-human hybrids, and save his own skin in the process.


I have a new favorite badass and his name is Lawson! I was a little leery when I started this book because I'm not usually a fan of martial arts action but I thought that a ninja vampire sounded pretty awesome, and it turns out that I was right. Lawson is battle worn and tired, just wants a small vacation before returning to the world of being a vampire Fixer, but trouble just seems to follow him wherever he goes, despite the fact that he is supposed to be off the grid. Being a Fixer for the vampire council is a difficult job, rife with violence, and Lawson uses his vast sense of humor (aka being a total smart-ass) to keep things in perspective and preserve his sanity. However, he also demonstrates a vulnerability and yearning that is rare for such a dominant, larger than life character.

The Kensei himself is a diabolical and chilling villain, an extremely evil mad scientist type that has extraordinary power. He operates in the Japanese underground with ease, fooling even the vampire council that has believed him to be dead for over a decade. He is made even more dangerous by his need for revenge.

The details about both Japan and being a ninja were woven throughout the story without being overpowering, and I enjoyed some of the pop culture references. This book is finely balanced with just the right amount of action adventure, character development, and even a bit of a romance.

"It's only advice if you choose to use it. Right now, they are only words floating around in the night air."- Yuki, page 46 of arc copy

Take my advice, buy this book. And if you are anything like I am that will lead to a mad scramble for the previous books, just to satisfy the neurosis that doesn't like reading anything out of order. And if you are looking for more awesome ninja info, or just want to browse the booklist, check out Jon's website. I even saw that the Lawson books might get a tv show *fingers crossed*  but I couldn't find anything concrete.

*Reviewed by Anna Dougherty for VampChix

Stop back to VampChix on Monday 24th, when Jon guests!


Jon F. Merz said...

Thanks so much for the great review, Anna! I'm so glad you enjoyed THE KENSEI! For your readers who are buying the book, I'd like to also suggest they send a copy of their receipt to: for a chance to win the sword we used in the book trailer. And be sure to sign up for my free newsletter out on my website - I'm running a serialized Lawson adventure called MISSION:Malta all year long! Thanks again!

Daelith said...

I recall seeing something about them making a TV series out of this series. Wondered what ever became of that.

Was hoping the older books in the series would be reissued someday. I've had The Fixer on my wish list for years now.

Jen D. said...

Great review Anna! Not to hunt down copies of the earlier books...

Jon F. Merz said...

Daelith - we're in pre-production on the pilot. Hopefully will be filming in the next few months!

I want the earlier books back, too - but in order to get them back, THE KENSEI needs to sell like crazy to show the god folks at St. Martin's that there is a demand for Lawson. My editor loves the series but her bosses need to see strong sales numbers, which is why I'm trying to get everyone to buy a paperback copy of it! :)

Thanks for your interest!

Happily Cheesy said...

Awesome. Looking forward to this one!

Teresa K. said...

This sounds wonderful. If Michele found it a good read, I have no doubt it isn't. I usually take her advice on reading books, since she knows what most of us would like.
I'm excited to read this and pass this on to my fanclub members. I'm always introducing new authors one way or another in the Anne Rice Vampire LeStat fanclub.

God luck with the pilot on the show. Will be looking out for it.


Michele Hauf said...

Teresa, Anna actually reviewed this book! And I take her word on books, because she's loved some great ones. :-)

I have read some of Jon's other stuff (he also writes for Rogue Angel) and enjoyed those, so can recommend this book on that alone.


Anna (Bite Club) said...

Yeah, so how do I find all the Rogue Angel books? It looks like I'll be having a merry 'ol scavenger hunt on the internet later:)

Michele Hauf said...

The most current Rogue Angels are usually shelved in the sci/fi section of book stores. Go figure. I think it's because there's no action/adventure section. But yes, otherwise, you'll have to hunt them down at Amazon, only you won't know which author wrote which one unless you can see the copyright page
If you listen to audio books, I recommend Graphic Audio's versions of the ROgue Angel stories. They are very well done.