Burns Bannion #1: “Kill Me In Tokyo” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson), 1958 from Berkley. Burns Bannion had just been released from the U.S. Army in Japan, where he claimed he was entering college. Instead, he wanted to stay in Japan to study Karate. One night he’s in one of his favorite bars watching strippers when a drunk American approaches him, thinking he is a private eye. Bannion was actually wondering how he was going to make a living in Japan, and this sounded like his answer. The American hands him money, and asks that he find a missing girl for him named Mitsuko. Bannion figures there is 90 million people in Japan, and most of them are named Mitsuko, but needing the money he accepts. Bannion ends up neck deep in gangsters and karate killers. Though he is training with a 7th degree black belt, Bannion hasn’t reached black belt level yet. Just about everyone he crosses is, but somehow the American comes out the winner. However, he is pretty well beat to a pulp before the story comes to a conclusion. One of my favorite scenes is after he takes some hard hits and kicks, but manages to get to one of his friends, the guy says, “Good Lord, it’s Frankenstein!” The story did have its moments, though it was a little loose at times, and some things were left open, which may appear in future stories. In 1958, this was one of the first really good karate series, and Thompson patterned it somewhat after the tough Mike Hammer. Well worth the read.