Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Review: The Kensei by Jon F. Merz

The Kensei: A Lawson Vampire NovelThe Kensei by Jon F. Merz
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: January 18, 2011
Paperback, 304 pages 
Urban Fantasy, Suspense, Paranormal
A Lawson Vampire Novel #5
ISBN: 978-0312662233

My Review:
Why I read this: When the author contacted me I read the blurb and thought it sounded like a novel I would enjoy.  As I got closer to reading it I wondered if I would enjoy it (a mood thing).  I'm glad I got a chance to read it because I am now sold on this series.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed reading The Kensei.  The action starts from just about the first page and continues through the book.  However, The Kensei is not all about the action.  I loved the fact that there is a continuing romance and also good character development through the book.  Add to that the excellent action scenes that I could easily picture in my head and you have one great book that will appeal to male and females, young and older alike.

The Kensei is actually the 5th book in the series, but you can read it as a stand-alone.  I did.  I also went and purchased the first book in the series for my Kindle at the great price of $2.99 as soon as I finished The Kensei.  If I had a little more money I would have purchased the whole series.  That is how much I enjoyed The Kensei and I look forward to going back and getting to know Lawson better.

As for genre, I would say urban fantasy.  It's set in today's world with the addition of vampires being a part of the world, but not known to the humans in the world.  I found it interesting that I could never really pin down an age for the characters.  Of course, being a vampire Lawson is much older, but is he in his teens, 20s, 30s or 40s, I never could quite figure out.  It really doesn't matter because I think it helps his universal appeal to be ageless.  Talya is the same way.  I love the fact that she is a strong and competent female, yet she is loving and caring.  You always seem to have one or the other in characters and I like that Mr. Merz was able to combine those characteristics and make Talya a very realistic and likable character.

The setting of Tokyo was also great - it's not a city I know much about but to see it through Lawson's eyes was great.  Getting to know the ins and outs of the society was fascinating as well.  From the police to the mob, it made an interesting storyline.

My favorite part - Lawson's wisecracking attitude.  An example from the first few pages that made me laugh:
I dropped down the stairs, passing slower moving travelers on the way.  Japan's nice about stuff like that.  If you don't want to hustle your a$$ around, stay to the right on the stairs and let everyone pass you on the left.  The same idea use to hold true for U.S. highways, but apparently that was a relic now, too.
I just love Lawson, he's a sexy vampire, he's intelligent, brave, strong and he has a killer sense of humor.  What more could you ask for?

So if you like Urban Fantasy and haven't tried out the Lawson Vampire series, give The Kensei a try, I think it is guaranteed to please and have you searching for the first four titles as well as clamoring for a new installment.

My Rating: 4.75/5.0

About the Book:

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.

About the Author: 

Jon F. Merz is a writer with over a dozen  published novels, a producer for New Ronin Entertainment and a trained black belt ninja. He has taught defensive tactics to civilian crime watch groups, police, military units, and agencies like the US Department of State, the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Prisons. In his past, Jon served with the United States Air Force, worked for the US government, and handled executive protection for Fortune 500 clients. He lives with his wife and two sons in suburban Boston.
FTC Information: I received this book from the author for a honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.