Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Kensei by Jon F. Merz [Review]

Title: The Kensei
Series: Lawson the Fixer, #5
Author: Jon F. Merz
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release: January 18, 2011
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312662238
ISBN-13: 978-0312662233
My Copy: Author
Reviewer: Rex
3.5 out of 5 Robots!

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.

My Review:
The Kensei is the fifth installment in the Lawson the Fixer series by Jon Merz. Though there are four previous novels, this can be read as a standalone without any confusion. This is the first novel I have read by Merz and I had no idea what I was getting into. I was pleasantly surprised. Our hero, Lawson, is extremely likable... charming, courageous and witty. You will also find yourself learning a little bit about martial arts... which I was hesitant about though I then found it to be enjoyably intriguing. 

Lawson is burned out, he has been a Fixer for too long and he needs a break. After thinking this is just what he is going to get, his former girlfriend throws him back into the mix. Someone is trafficking organs and it has to be stopped. I am an action junkie, and this plot delivers. Tons of great weapons and smooth fight scenes. I will admit, I do not know much about the Japanese culture- never visited, but after reading The Kensei I felt as if I'd just gotten back from a week long stay overseas. Merz did a wonderful job vividly describing the story without being too over the top. I love coming away from a novel feeling like I've just been somewhere new.

I often found myself forgetting that Lawson is a vampire. The vampire aspects of his life weren't touched on often- just the basic vampire needs that were necessary for Lawson to exist. This is not a complaint, the action and plot made up for it in my opinion. It was nice having a great plot that wasn't overwhelmed with the  complexities of having a vampire as a hero. However, for those of you that read an Urban Fantasy purely for the great, heavy paranormal aspects of it- this could be a problem.

The characters are brilliant, the action and plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat and the villain will make you cringe. I'd recommend this story to any fan of a good spy novel or urban fantasy.  


  1. Hiya Rex,
    New follower, just discovered your blog from Jon's Twitter feed -- great review! I'm also going to post mine soon. Just wanted to say that I'm glad I stumbled over here because you review in all the genres I love! :-) I tend to focus more on horror and dark fantasy, so if you're into that, take a gander at Darkeva's Dark Delights ;-)


  2. Hi, Darkeva!

    So glad you stopped by :) I love love horror and dark fantasy, so I will pop on over. Can't wait to see your review of Kensei!



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