Ed's Blog

"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."


Japanese character for satori

Image via Wikipedia

I just finished reading Don Winslow’s Satori, and I highly recommend it. You may or may not have ever read Trevanian’s 1979 novel Shibumi. Trevanian is a pseudonym of Rodney William Whitaker, an academic who, according to Wikipedia, “remained mysterious throughout most of his life.” He died in 2005. Satori is the Whitaker-family blessed prequel to Shibumi.

Shibumi is about Nicholaï Hel, born in Shanghai in 1920 to a deposed Russian aristocrat mother and raised in Japan by a general in the Japanese Imperial Army. Set in the 1970s, it is about a struggle between the “Mother Company,” a conspiracy of energy companies that secretly controls much of the western world, and the highly-skilled assassin, Nicholaï Hel. I won’t spoil it for you by providing more details, but I’ve read all of Vince Flynn’s great Mitch Rapp novels and all of Daniel Silva’s great Gabriel Allon novels, and until I read Satori, Shibumi remained my favorite novel of all time. Now they are tied for first place. (Don’t ask me why I have a penchant for assassins novels.)

Satori begins in Tokyo in 1951, moves on to Beijing and Saigon, all cities I’ve spent a great deal of time in. Saigon in the 1960s was very much like it was in the 1950s, and Beijing in the early 1980s was much more like it was in the 1950s than it is today. But even if you haven’t been to either, if you like assassin novels, I guarantee you will like Shibumi and Satori. They are the best of the genre.


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