Review: The Kensei by Jon F. Merz

March 19, 2011 Uncategorized 1

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; Original edition (January 18, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0312662238
  • Source: Author

We meet Lawson, a vampire, in Japan where he’s gone for a bit of recovery & training.  Not only is Lawson a vampire, he’s also a Fixer, a member of an elite group that keeps the balance between the human & vampire worlds stable. When something goes awry in this balance, it is up to the likes of Lawson to fix it.

Lawson’s attempt at rest is short-lived: on the train from the airport he witnesses an attempted murder: a young couple is nearly killed.  Instead, their attacker winds up dead.  The attacker isn’t just anyone, but a member of the Yakuza (Japanese mob), and the mob seeks vengeance.

Meanwhile, Lawson’s girlfriend, Tayla,  a former KGB assassin (and human!), arrives in Japan, Lawson beings to realize his vacation isn’t going to be as restful as he imagined.   She’s investigating a crime of her own:  children from impoverished villages  killed,  seemingly for their organs alone.  Tayla has uncovered an organ-trafficking ring that she’s followed from Hong Kong & Shanghai and now to the same city in which Lawson is trying to recover.

Lawson & Tayla soon learn that their two crimes are linked: a shadowy, sword-wielding creature known as the Kensei has attempted to create an army of hybrids, both human and vampire:

“…they do combine the best of what humans and vampires share-namely extra strength combined with superlative regeneration abilities as derived from the ingestion of the life-force energy contained in blood.”


The human organs that have been stolen will be used to create these vampire-human hybrids.  It is up to Lawson & Tayla to put an end to this organ-trafficking ring & destroy any chance of these hybrids being released into the human world.

While The Kensei is technically the fifth book in  the Lawson Vampire series, Merz does provide a great deal of history and back story.  It’s obvious that Lawson isn’t your typical vampire!  He’s a witty, super secret agent with ninja skills & an incredible sense of humor.  The fact he is a vampire doesn’t weigh too heavy on the overall storyline, a attribute that lends this book to appeal to a wide range of readers.

Merz has without a doubt done his research into the culture of Japan..and of vampires.  The “logic” behind Merz’s vampires makes sense.  They aren’t horrible creatures who feast on human blood (well, not all of them).  I did notice a mention of “sparkling” but I’ll pretend to overlook that bit.

The Kensei is full of in-your-face action.  Merz himself is quite adept in martial arts; his knowledge is apparent (Click here to see images of some of Jon’s training exercises). Fans of both the paranormal & tales of espionage will appreciate this series.  How can you pass up a book referred to as “James Bond with fangs?”


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