Book Review · Books

Death in the Dojo by Sue Leather [BOOK REVIEW]

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I remember reading The Death in the Dojo a few years ago. I still remember the story and the feelings it brought me. This is a story about a mystery, about karate and the love between a daughter and her dad. I need to just say that this book has and always will have a special place in my heart. 

I have been in a dojo since I remember myself. And the sensei is no one else, but my dad. From the very first kata and my first wins and losses, till the days when I started becoming a national champion and travelling across countries, my dad was always the person beside me. The one to guide me and show me the right way. The one to pick me when I fall, and the one who believed in me, when everyone else didn’t. 

“I went over to the Asano dojo for the last half hour of training and saw a good fight among six black belts. I stood and watched the white gi’s moving quickly round the wooden floor, black belts flying. There was something beautiful about this, more like a dance rather than a fight. It made me feel sad, not to be there doing it. “

Even though this book is not the best mystery you will ever read, I doubt that was its real purpose.

I believe that the purpose of this book was to show us a glimpse of what karate really means, to show us the honour, the respect, the persistence we all share in unison. 

“It was true that the great masters seemed to have an unusual sense of peace around them.”

Death in the Dojo starts off when Kate, a journalist, is tasked to investigate the recent murder of the famous karateka Kawaguchi. It is a complete mystery how he would be killed with just one punch called gyaku zuki and die. The mystery is not behind whether it’s possible for him to die from one punch, but the mystery is why he allowed for this to happen. As a master, he is very well able to defend himself against just one punch. 

On this note, I have to mention that in the book, the punch is spelled as “yaku-zuki”, which is incorrect.   

When this mystery is connected to another mystery that happened many years ago, Kate is determined to find the full truth once and for all. 

Even though it is quite a short book, it contains a lot of information and a couple of unexpected plot twists. It captures perfectly the cultural differences between England and Japan, which is shown through the love and relationships between daughters and their dads.

“It was my Dad who taught me how to fight. He never treated me any differently than my brother. He showed me how to fight with my fists up when I was five and to get up quickly if I fell down. I was never allowed to give up. … It was a lesson that would be useful to me many times over the years. Whenever something bad happens in my life and I feel like giving up, I hear dad’s voice in my ears, telling me to get up off the floor.”

I truly loved this book. It will always stay in my heart. I will keep coming to it when I miss my karate days. I recommend it if you like mysteries and martial arts. Also if you are a fan of the Japanese culture. The ending wasn’t the best mystery ending ever, as the story went sort of unfinished, and we didn’t truly solve one of the mysteries, but it was still a lovely read for me.

This blog post is dedicated to my amazing and one and only dad! I love you! 

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