by Don Winslow

Reviewer Rating:


sa•to•ri  noun  /sə-’tôr-ē/
     : Sudden enlightenment ; a state of consciousness attained
        by intuitive illumination

This is an old school espionage thriller written by a new school author. Intended as both a tribute and prequel to Trevanian's cult classic Shibumi (noun: effortless perfection ; unobtrusive beauty), Satori follows Nicholai Hel, an assassin that’s part Bond, part Bourne, part Natty Bumppo (aka the last Mohican), and part Cain from the TV show Kung Fu – but all parts awesome. 

The story opens in the throes of the Korean War. After three years of solitary confinement, Nicholai’s captors are offering to release him – but at a price. The CIA needs the Soviet Commissioner to Red China dead (old school!).  They need a killer who can infiltrate communist Beijing, and won’t be missed when he doesn’t survive. They need Nicholai, an assassin searching for satori – or so they assume.

Beautifully written and executed, Winslow succeeds at not only capturing the spirit of Trevanian's tale, but also at breathing new life into his beloved hero.

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