About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter

16. - 479.) The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter – The book opens with Sgt. Earl Swagger attacking a Japanese bunker during the battle for Iwo Jima in which he kills Captain Hideki Yano. 60 years later their sons, Bob Lee Swagger and Philip Yano, meet and Yano asks Swagger to search for his father’s sword. A search spanning America turns up the sword and Swagger returns it to Yano in a moving meeting. Swagger was a sniper warrior in Vietnam who appreciates the commitment of soldiers at war. When Yano’s family is murdered Swagger sets out to avenge his friend’s death and recover the sword. In classic American thriller style Swagger immerses himself in Japanese sword culture learning how to fight with a sword through kendo. The demands of Japanese martial arts, a combination of athletics and philosophy, are familiar from my study of judo but I had never appreciated the importance of the sword in Japanese culture and history. The conclusion is credibly bloody. The final battle has a fantastic ending that I never forsaw. The book should be able to be a great movie. I was reminded of Clavell’s Shogun with a European becoming Japanese and playing a role in Japanese conflicts. Hunter is a skilled thriller writer. The Swagger history continues its bloody saga. Excellent. Hardcover or paperback. (May 2/09)


  1. Bill - Thanks for the fine review. I didn't know you'd studied judo - that's interesting! I'm sure that gave you a really helpful perspective on this novel. Glad you enjoyed it and it does sound like quite a good thriller. One thing that appeals to me is the multiple-history angle (i.e. it's got roots in WWII); another is the dual-culture angle. Intriguing

  2. Margot: I hold the rank of Shodan, first degree black belt, in judo. I always add that I earned it as a noncompetitor through study, practice, katas and teaching. I do know how throws, chokes, arm bars and wrestling actually work.

  3. Bill, thanks for the introduction to Stephen Hunter. I have never read Hunter before. I'd have thought Philip Yano would have avenged his father's death by killing Bob Lee Swagger, as is the case in predictable tales of vengeance. Instead, Hunter's story, of bringing the two sons together in lasting friendship, is refreshing. I am curious to know what the "fantastic ending" is like. On a related note, I wonder how many times the US-Japan conflict in the Pacific during WWII has been the subject of, or formed the backdrop to, literary works, besides Iwo Jima.

  4. Prashant: Thanks for the comment.

    If you do not forsee reading the book and would like to know the ending please send me an email and I will advise you.

    I do not think I have read any other books about the U.S. - Japan in WW II. I have read books and put up posts on Australia - Japan.

  5. Bill, I'd definitely like to read THE 47TH SAMURAI if I can, so I'll keep your offer on hold for the moment. Thanks...