Multilayered and satisfying, a welcome and well-developed addition to an accomplished martial arts series.

Enzan The Far Mountain

A CONNOR BURKE MARTIAL ARTS THRILLER

The fifth installment in an imaginative martial arts thriller series.

Connecticut-based anthropologist, black belt and prolific author Donohue (Kage: The Shadow, 2011, etc.) is a martial arts expert who has parlayed his acumen into a succession of popular crime dramas featuring heroic defender Connor Burke. This time around, Burke takes time out from his intensive training regimen with aging sensei Yamashita Rinsuke to be propositioned by the powerful and elite Japanese Miyazaki family. Under the guise that Yamashita has somehow become indebted to them, the Miyazakis commission Burke, renowned for his work with the Kunaicho (“the Imperial Household Agency”) in aiding the Japanese royal family, to locate and return their defiant, nymphomaniacal 23-year-old daughter, Chie, who has gone missing. Initially, Chie’s father attributed his daughter’s absence from school and home to restless “daughter-gone-wild-in-grad-school” syndrome; family honor and confidentiality prevented them from taking more drastic and conventional actions to find her. But Chie’s sketchy, low-life boyfriend, Lim, and her history of drug use has everyone believing her disappearance could be a malicious kidnapping. Against his brother’s better judgment, Burke embarks on a treacherous investigation with a Brooklyn mobster’s assistant, Alejandro (who also seems to disappear midway through the novel). Soon, the investigation is bolstered by a precious book containing Yamashita’s expansive personal history. Chapters featuring an onslaught of Taser-armed skilled torturers and tactical villains unfold as the tension mounts and Burke’s progress in finding Chie is blocked at every pass. His saving grace comes after drawing on the powerful wisdom obtained throughout his tutelage by Yamashita. Once tough-talking Chie enters the fray, the plot heats up, and Donohue’s talent for serpentine, fast-paced action erupts. Throughout the book’s first half, Donohue cleverly intertwines the story with opinions and interesting perspectives on Eastern Zen philosophy and the rich history of martial arts, a direction that not only expands the breadth of the mystery, but also serves to enlighten his audience throughout this vivid, exhilarating ride.

Multilayered and satisfying, a welcome and well-developed addition to an accomplished martial arts series.

Pub Date: July 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59439-281-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: YMAA Publication Center

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Lame but, like its predecessors, bound for bestsellerdom.

HOUR GAME

A serial killer with a sense of history is the baddie in this latest from Baldacci, one of the reigning kings of potboilers (Split Second, 2003, etc.).

He kills, he leaves clues, he flatters through imitation: Son of Sam, the San Francisco Zodiac killer, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gracy, and so on down a sanguinary list of accredited members of the Monsters’ Hall of Fame. Suddenly, the landscape of poor little Wrightsburg, Virginia, is littered with corpses, and ex-Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have their hands full. That’s because bewildered, beleaguered Chief of Police Todd Williams has turned to the newly minted private investigating firm of King and Maxwell for desperately needed (unofficial) help. Even these ratiocinative wizards, however, admit to puzzlement. “But I'm not getting this,” says Michelle. “Why commit murders in similar styles to past killers as a copycat would and then write letters making it clear you’re not them?” Excellent question, and it goes pretty much unanswered. Never mind—enter the battling Battles, a family with the requisite number of sins and secrets to qualify fully as hot southern Gothic and to prop up a plot in need. Bobby Battles, the patriarch, is bedridden, but Remmy, his wife, is one lively mischief-making steel magnolia. She’s brought breaking-and-entering charges against decent local handyman Junior Deaver, who as a result languishes in the county jail. Convinced of his innocence, Junior’s lawyer hires King & Maxwell to sniff around for exculpatory evidence. Well, will the two plot streams flow together? You betcha. Will the copycat-serial-killer at one point decide that King and Maxwell are just too clever to live? Inevitably. And when at last that CCSK’s identity is revealed and his crimes explained (talkily and tediously), will readers be satisfied? Only the charitable among them.

Lame but, like its predecessors, bound for bestsellerdom.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2004

ISBN: 0-446-53108-1

Page Count: 440

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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