Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: The Kensei by Jon F. Merz

Writing this review feels like such an accomplishment for me. It was this book that began my downward spiral into owning a TBR pile that rivals Mount Everest. This book came to me in 2011 and I planned to review it right away, but I took on too many book tour requests and my pile grew and grew. I am finally catching up and it feels great.

Lawson is a wise-cracking vampire charged with protecting the Balance between vampires and humans. A shrewd and deadly opponent, he rids the world of bad guys and hopes to live long enough to make it home.

In The Kensei, Lawson escapes to Japan for a well-deserved and needed vacation and advanced training. He no sooner sets foot in the country when he is dropped into the middle of a Yakuza turf war orchestrated by a shady figure know as the Kensei. With the help of former KGB assassin, Tayla, who is also his human girlfriend--just don't tell the Council that--Lawson attempts to put a stop to the Kensei's organ trafficking networks and hopes to prevent the creation of an army of vampire-human hybrids; that is if he doesn't get killed first.

In the late '90s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a cult phenomenon. One of the more interesting aspects of the series was Buffy's wiseguy vampire boyfriend, Angel, who had a curse placed on him that gave him a soul. The character became so popular he earned a spin-off titled, Angel.

Lawson's sarcasm and mannerisms remind me of Angel. Both are tall, dark, and handsome. Both are quick-witted and funny. And both can kick butt.

There are a lot of elements to this story. Lawson's destiny as a Fixer. His on again-off again relationship with Tayla. His friendships in the States and Japan. The gangs in Japan. The organ trafficking networks. The Kensei's role in organ trafficking and his interest in Lawson. The mysterious Council who Lawson is defying by having a secret relationship with a human, in addition to Lawson beginning to take stock of his life to determine what matters.

The Kensei is a fast-paced, exciting read that draws you in from the first moment. A masterful storyteller, Merz blends rich descriptions, well-developed characters, and a superb plot to create a mesmerizing novel. With several twists and turns, the tension increases. Tons of action, witty banter, and a dash of romance fill the pages of this unique paranormal novel. I couldn't put it down.

You'll find a different type of vampire story in this one and you'll be hooked!

Highly recommended.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (January 18, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312662238

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

This is the 1st book I've read for the 2013 Catch Up Reading Challenge.

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