Rick Patterson First, you have to remember that this followed on the heels of Trevanian's parodies of James Bond--The Eiger Sanction and The Loo Sanction (notice LOO is 007 upside down?). Shibumi carries on with the very wry and sardonic treatment of governments, corporations, and institutions of just about every description, so in that way it can come across a bit heavy-handed, but it maintains an essential respect for the individual that can't be dismissed as pretentious. Nicholai Hel is worthy of much more respect than Jonathan Hemlock from the Sanction books; it can be somewhat captured by the observation that Hemlock collects art and Hel is trying to make his own life into art. Now that sounds pretentious, but trust me, this book is really not. It is absolutely worth the time and you will find yourself thinking of moments and well-turned phrases and characters long, long after you close the final page.