Review: The Shogun’s Daughter

I got an early peek at the latest book in a great mystery series, the Sano Ichiro books by Laura Joh Rowland. Set in the Tokugawa shogunate, Sano is a samurai tasked as the shogun’s investigator of crimes and intrigue. And in this 17th entry, his arch-enemy has deluded the shogun into putting him in power, and Sano’s family learns what it is like to face the unquestionable and oft-abused power of the warrior caste.

It was a great read. My review, with excerpts, is at Criminal Element in Fresh Meat: The Shogun’s Daughter.

My own thriller with samurai, ninja, MMA fighters and World War II battles, stretching from the American west to Tokyo in the past and present, is free on Kindle today:

Blade of Dishonor Part 1: The War Comes Home is the first novella-sized part of the epic novel.

And you can get the complete novel of Blade of Dishonor for Kindle and in Trade Paperback.

If you would like a signed copy, send me an email via this Contact Form.


Truth and Fiction…

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and sometimes life imitates art. In this case, the premise of my novel BLADE OF DISHONOR made the news today. The book revolves around Butch, a World War II vet who came home with a war trophy: a treasured Japanese sword. I based this on the fact that several priceless Masamune blades from the Tokugawa era disappeared at the end of the war, and have never resurfaced. And I wrote in the book that very few swords are returned.

Now this veteran has proved me wrong, or become the exception that proves the rule. A good man who fought bravely and wished to make war no more. Orval Amdahl, I salute you.

Reminder: Blade of Dishonor Part 1: The War Comes Home is FREE on Kindle for next two days.

Thanks to Dan Malmon for the tip.

WWII vet from Minnesota to return Japanese sword

The Associated Press
POSTED: 09/13/2013 04:08:47 AM CDT | UPDATED: ABOUT 2 HOURS AGO

LANESBORO, Minn.—A 94-year-old veteran from southeastern Minnesota plans to return a sword he took from Nagasaki, Japan, as a token of his time during World War II.
“At first, I kept it as a souvenir,” said Orval Amdahl, of rural Lanesboro. “Then, all of a sudden, I began thinking—someone had to own this.”

Amdahl said he got the sword because he was a Marine captain in the war. Over the years he kept the sword in good condition. He tried contacting people about the sword but had no luck.

Then Caren Stelson asked to interview him for a book she’s writing about the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the war in 1945. Amdahl mentioned the sword.

“I showed it to her, and it blossomed from there,” he told the Post-Bulletin of Rochester ( “She has people in Nagasaki she can work with.”

Stelson used those contacts to find Tadahiro Motomura, the grandson of the Japanese military officer who once owned the sword.

Amdahl will hand the sword to Motomura during a ceremony Sept. 21 at the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul, which is a sister city to Nagasaki.

Amdahl said he was on a ship during World War II, ready to take part in an invasion of Japan, when the two atomic bombs were dropped.

In Japan, he was stationed at Nagasaki after the radiation from the bomb had dissipated. Before he left, he was allowed to take home one souvenir. That’s when he saw the sword with a wood-covered scabbard and a block of wood attached by a string. It looked like it might have belonged to a cavalry officer, and Amdahl liked horses. He took that one.

“I want to get it back to the rightful owner. … I won’t miss it,” Amdahl said. “I believe in peace.”


Character-Driven Action, at Do Some Damage

I’m at Do Some Damage today, talking Rambo, defining characters by their actions, the Devil’s Brigade, and the true story of the most revered Japanese sword going missing in 1945, never to be seen again. All of which come together in Blade of Dishonor.
Part 1 is FREE for Kindle for the next few days. Get a taste.

Do you have a ninja infestation? Call ‘Rage Cage’ Reeves.

Meet ‘Rage Cage’ Reeves. MMA fighter. Marine. Back home from Afghanistan, looking for his Grandpa Butch, who he finds mixed up in a centuries-old battle between ninja and samurai over a stolen Japanese sword.

If your home has become overrun with ninjas (sic) or shinobi and yakuza, the Warriors of Hachiman will send Rage Cage Reeves to help, at reasonable rates.

He will be available starting September 10th, so set your appointments early.

If you review books for a blog, publication or website please contact me for an Advanced Reading Copy for review.

Tokyo Vice


Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan, by Jake Adelstein

Tokyo Vice at Amazon

An excellent look into the Tokyo metro area crime, vice and news beat by an American cub reporter who eventually broke a huge human trafficking scandal, money laundering in Vegas casinos that allowed three yakuza bosses to jump the U.S. organ donor line for liver transplants, and get him targeted by the leader of the Goto-gumi yakuza. It begins light and funny and soon descends into hell as Adelstein sees that behind the lassez-faire “free love” of the Japanese hostess clubs and suck-off parlors lies a violent trade in sex slavery and xenophobia that allows nationals to victimize foreigners with impunity, especially women. For anyone who has visited Tokyo it’s a sobering picture that tears apart the myth of the “honorable yakuza” put forth by… yakuza-owned movie and media conglomerates.

Tomoyasu Hotei – Precious Deal

The song stuck in my head this week is “Precious Deal” by Tomoyasu Hotei. Most famous for the “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” theme from Kill Bill, he is a Japanese rock musician whose work spans many genres. Bombastic like O-ren Ishi’s theme song, more typical hard-edged rock like the song above, and my favorite cover of “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin (which he did before Trent Reznor essentially copied it for the opening credits of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo remake).

electric samurai

Hotei is also an actor, and plays a role in one of my favorite revisionist samurai flicks, Samurai Fiction. Well worth a rental.

A great introduction to his music is the album Electric Samurai, a little play on Marc Bolan’s Electric Warrior album. It has the song from Kill Bill and Immigrant Song. Precious Deal, with its infectious riff, is on another album.


Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books


My bookstore haul days are limited, now that Firecracker and I share a modest apartment. Despite my admiration for the ease of e-books- I wish every new book gave you an e-book download code, like many music and movies do- I love books for their design elements and other physical qualities that add up to more than the sum of their parts. I’d line the walls with shelves full of them if I could.

I visited Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books on a walk through the West Village with Zak Mucha last week. They mostly sell remainders of class-conscious tomes, lots of books on Blake, Bob Dylan, President Obama, and so on. I picked up an art book of The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige to give me some visual inspiration for the short novel I am writing, which is set partially in Japan. I also snagged a box of greeting cards printed with portions of M.C. Escher’s mural “Metamorphosis.” I’ve always been fascinated with woodcuts, and Escher was my introduction to them. At the register, there was a stack of postcards with William Blake’s “The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun,” which played a big part in one of my favorite novels, Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. For me, it was the first serial killer novel that delved into how we make our own monsters, treating him with sympathy but also firm in showing that true psychopaths cannot be rehabilitated, because they like what they do.

So that was my haul, for twenty bucks. Not bad. An interesting little book shop with a nice selection of books you might not find in a chain store, at bargain prices.