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Sensei [Mass Market Paperback]

John Donohue
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Onyx Books; Reprint edition (Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451411323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451411327
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 683,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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He slipped into the empty building before anyone else. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The start of a brand new adventure 2 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a long standing Martial Artist it is perhaps suprising that I haven't delved into the MA fiction before, but I was very happy to discover this author. I would recommend it not only to Martial Artists but also to fans of crime fiction/murder mysteries, as the books are a refreshing cross over between the two genres. It is told almost exclusively from the perspective of an Irish American academic Connor Burke, who is a long standing student of Yamashita - a old school Japanese Sensei - and is also brother to a Homicide detective.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dragon stamping my authority 31 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ok I liked this book, I liked the characters and the interactions especially those moments between Burke and his Sensei. The story flowed and was a good idea. But not enough action for me not enough martial arts! I realise the subtlety of it all but I needed a bit more slam bang action as in those 70's Kung fu thrillers.
Still a very good read by an author who knows his stuff and its place today's world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome and evocative martial arts thriller. 30 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wow. Finally a martial arts thriller by someone who knows what they are talking about. This is very much in the tradition of Eric Van Lustbader and Marc Olden but arguably far more accurate martial arts wise and more up to date. Great story. After reading this I read the next 3 immediately.
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent martial arts thriller! 11 May 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Whether you like police thrillers or martial arts fiction there is a lot to enjoy in this first fiction novel by (non-fiction) martial arts writer John Donohue.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars kinda hokey, but fun 20 Jun 2004
By Howard Upton - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mr. Donohue touched on a subject that is sacred to many martial artists. That is, the inner sanctum of the dojo, its sensei and the relationship between sensei (lit. one who came before--teacher) and deshi (student). The author did a fantastic job of describing the attitude of a Japanese teacher toward his students, especially gaijin. He also introduced many readers to some Japanese terms that are endeared within the dojo walls.
The characters, though, are somewhat flat. I believe Mr. Donohue could have developed his characters a little more, offering more insight into the lives, the training and interpersonal relationships between each.
All in all, the reader should enjoy this book if he/she enjoys the traditional Japanese ways. I'll definately purchase the author's next book due out some time in the fall, with the hopes and expectations that he pursues growth in his characters.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new most favorite author 26 Mar 2004
By Jimmy J - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you're into martial arts, or ever wanted to be and like mysteries, you'll enjoy this book. It's about a college professor who studies martial arts pretty seriously under a sensei or teacher the likes I've been looking for all my life. The plot is unveiled in a way that I wanted to both rush through the book but at the same time go slowly, so the book could go on and on. I haven't read many books that I didn't want to end because then the pleasure would stop. It puts you in the world of a person who thinks differently - like a person you would like to be - more tuned into their surroundings. The author brings you into the martial arts culture easily, using all the right words. I hope they make a movie out of it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A startlingly good first novel 18 July 2005
By Colin P. Lindsey - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Donohue is to be commended on his first novel, Sensei, a remarkably good first effort that I would whole-heartedly recommend to fans of thrillers. This was a very enjoyable read and in no way felt like a freshman effort. It is always such an unusual treat to stumble across a new writer and have their debut novel completely capture you and take you off guard. Debut efforts rarely have me scribble the author's name on my "must read from now" on list, but this one did, and I am waiting as patiently as possible for his next novel to come out.

His protagonist, Connor Burke, is a finely realized and interesting character with substantial depth, complex feelings and motivations, and is an unusual hybrid of both college professor and martial artist. Connor, a thinking man's hero, finds himself drawn into a police investigation because of his unusual background and expertise. All the characters are finely realized, the plot reasonably realistic, the atmoshpere compelling, but it's the pacing of the novel that appeals to me the most. Much like Dave Robicheaux in James Lee Burke's novels, Donohue's character, Connor Burke, narrates events in an introspective, almost brooding fashion, and thoughout the story is contemplative, thoughtful, and focused on matters conscience and trust. He is an extremly interesting and sympathetic character and it is a pleasure to read about his adventures. So while the action is completely lively and thrilling, the story itself is calm and centered. This novel is much like the martial artists it depicts; externally violent and active, yet calm and centerd within.

The novel is set in New York City, feautes an impressive amount of action, and unfolds in layers as Connor seeks down and confronts an extraordinarily talented martial artist who for obscure reasons has murdered several prominenet martial arts teachers (sensei). Fans of James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Barry Eisler will all enjoy this one. I heartily recommend it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre... there are definitely better 9 Feb 2006
By Martial Arts Enthusiast - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm a huge martial arts fan, having practiced for decades. I gobble up anything related to martial arts fiction, so I was especially excited to see Sensei and Deshi come on the market.

After reading Sensei on a single 2 hour plane ride, it became clear that there wasn't much book here. But hey, I don't mind a quick fun book... the problem was there isn't anything fun about this book. Very very mediocre.

The protagonist (Connor Burke) is so dimwitted that as a reader, I wanted to scream... "Hey dummy, wake up!" Then when he finally figures out that his sensei is not quite being forthcoming, he gets all cry baby... very unrealistic and silly. The bad guy is completely unknown to the reader, so you have no way of identifying with him - and then he is easily disposed of - pointless. They only thing good about this book, and I mean that, is that Donohue has a good commmand of the japanese terms relating to martial arts.

If you want to read a couple of much better books, read Arthur Bradley's Process of Elimination and Barry Eisler's Hard Rain series. Process has tons of action (both gunfire and martial arts) and is super smart. Hard Rain is unique in that it tells of an assassin who kills by making it look like an accident. Both books have Judo and Karate and are well written.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read. Totally new genre. 29 April 2004
By Military wife - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was a gift to my husband who is a Black belt in about 5 different styles of martial arts. Now, he is NOT a reader but was intrigued enough to give it a try and he read it in one sitting. He recommended it to me and I tried it just to see what held his attention for so long!! I was captured by the first chapter. I have never read another book quite like it. It was interesting to get a glimpse into the martial arts world and a peek at a martial artist's psyche. Don't get me wrong though, this book is a good mystery too. The final battle was awesome. I felt like I was there. This authors descriptive phrases are incredible. I will buy the next one for sure. I highly recommend this book. Give it a try and you wont be disappointed. You don't have to be into the martial arts to enjoy this book. Believe me, I couldn't do the splits if someone paid me but I loved this book!!
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