When murder darkens the dojo, martial artist Burke needs all the right moves.
Japanese-American businessman Edward Sakura is the first in a series of homicide victims. But wheeler-dealer Sakura has followed the Way of the Brush. For 30 years, he has faithfully practiced calligraphy, and in the moment before his assailant pulls the trigger, Sakura uses his brush for one last time to exact vengeance from the grave. Enter series hero Connor Burke, serious martial arts student. An advanced black belt in karate like his author, Burke credits his salvation to what he’s learned from Yamashita, his sensei. After years of training, he’s an extraordinary fighter, but his redemption transcends mere physicality. So attuned is he to the spiritual side of martial arts that Yamashita regards him as the stuff senseis are made of. Connor’s older brother, Mickey the homicide cop, similarly impressed, turns to Connor, hoping he can convert the Sakura calligraphy into a workable lead. Eventually, Connor comes through, discovering in the Zenlike clue links to the Chinese secret service, to an iconic sensei with feet of clay, and, most important, to the elusive, furiously sought inka, a MacGuffin in a kimono.
After his lean and literate debut (Sensei, 2003), Donohue produces a talky disappointment more interested in proselytizing than storytelling.