For most, martial arts are just a hobby – a way to stay fit or boost one’s ego. For others, they’re more: a way of life that pulls people from the depths of their insecurities and teaches them the importance of facing their demons. And a very few dedicate their lives to the pursuit of the martial way . . . the pursuit of becoming a warrior.
Sometimes, that devotion can even save a life. . . .
Evan Connor’s just been released from Lackawanna County Prison in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His wife, Cindy, refuses to let him come home, so he’s forced to move back in with his mother. As if having no job, no close friends, a wife who’s threatening divorce, and living back in his childhood home isn’t challenging enough, he’s struggling with depression and drug addiction.
Evan finds menial temp jobs at Labor Ready, but soon falls back into his old ways of getting high with street bud Tyrone and a crack whore, Ginger. He steals and sells his mother’s antiques and shakes down his youngest son, Tim, a struggling musician with demons of his own.
When it seems like there’s no point in going on, he decides to commit suicide. First, though, he decides to return a wallet he stole. The man he stole it from, a local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, shows his appreciation by offering Evan a free Jiu-Jitsu lesson. To his surprise, he falls in love with it, and decides to devote himself to the martial artist’s way of life.
The more he trains, the less feels the need to use drugs. Evan tries desperately to get back with his wife and to set things right with Tim as well as with his eldest, Jack, who’s serving in the 4th Infantry division in Iraq with problems of his own, such as IEDs and a turncoat intelligence source. But a prison beef with a dangerous convict, his debts, and his old habits and druggie friends aren’t going to make it easy.
A martial arts tournament, offering a first prize of two grand, comes to Evan’s attention. He enters it in hopes of winning respect from his family, and to take home the money to help replace stolen property. But in order to win, he must defeat Kendall, a dojo bully who has it in for him, along with an even more seasoned grappler, Murilo, from a rival Jiu-Jitsu school. Can Evan pull his family back together through his study of the martial way, or will he sink back into self-destruction?
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A tale of redemption and martial arts. Both are well balanced. A solid first novel.