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TThe execution-style murder of a Japanese businessman, who’s shot through the temple while engaged in calligraphy at his Brooklyn home, dramatically opens Donohue’s intriguing second martial arts thriller (after 2003’s Sensei). Dr. Connor Burke, a history scholar and black belt, gets enlisted by his NYPD detective brother Micky, who’s his spiritual polar opposite, to decipher the calligraphic writing left by the victim at the crime scene. The inked message implicates followers of a revered Tibetan lama in this and two other murders. Charged with protecting the lama, who’s at the center of a conflict involving a rising charismatic sensei (aka teacher), political threats in Tibet and competing martial arts disciplines, Burke journeys to the lama’s reclusive mountain retreat, where he’s stalked by a hulking Korean-American named Han. Using an economy of words that echoes the uncluttered atmosphere of the dojo, the traditional Japanese training hall, Donohue glides effortlessly between the disciplined, mystical culture of the martial arts community and the chaotic thrum of the streets. Peppered with musings of Eastern philosophy, gritty cop lingo and occasional understated humor, this mystery with its fresh protagonist will appeal to all kinds of readers, not just martial arts aficionados.
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