The Official Website of  SAM MITANI

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It was about time a novel featured a young automotive and gaming enthusiast as a protagonist. Drawing upon my 20-plus years as an automotive journalist, and my forty-plus years as a martial artist, I have crafted a story about a reluctant hero thrown into the middle of a CIA investigation. They join forces to hunt down a rogue Russian scientist attempting to alter the balance of world power. Set in the South of France, Los Angeles and Tokyo, The Prototype is a novel that will appeal to all people, not just car enthusiasts. —SM

The Prototype

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WINNER: Best Thriller of the New Generation Indie Book Awards 2019!

A 2018 Best Book Award FINALIST! 


New Generation Indie Book Awards

Intriguing and fascinating mixture of automobile journalism, international espionage, murder, and medical technology provides the basis for his cross-cultural race for life. Journalist Clay's story begins with a case of road rage between a Jaguar XF and a 370Z Coupe Nismo. Then he received an invitation to a premier event hosted by Kamita Motors in France that is almost ruined by office politics. At the hotel he dismisses the warning that his life in is danger. He does not understand why he was picked, but he knows he is in for a ride of a lifetime. I suggest readers fasten their seatbelts, to better handle the twists and turns in an unexpected race to the finish.

Clarion Reviews

Sam Mitani’s exciting thriller The Prototype includes science fiction elements as it takes on the cloak-and-dagger world of the Japanese auto industry.The best elements of the book peel back the world of Japanese automakers, giving a glimpse of Tokyo and what it feels like to drive fantastic cars, all while living a fantasy-filled life...The Prototype is a satirical thriller that gets its kicks from its speed and its willingness to explore the boundaries of what defines humanity.

Read the entire review here.

BlueInk Reviews

With shades of Michael Crichton’s technological terrors, brutal hand-to-hand combat, and vivid racing sequences, award-winning automotive journalist Sam Mitani’s The Prototype delivers high-speed thrills. This is an entertaining first novel that marries Mitani’s unique perspective on racing to his enthusiasm for judo and an animated literary voice. Combining the balletic combat of John Wick and the jet-propelled exploits of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Mitani succeeds in absorbing readers into a shadowy, futuristic Tokyo where nothing is as it seems.


Read the entire review here.

Readers' Favorite

The Prototype by Sam Mitani is a cleverly plotted crime novel with sophisticated characters and a plot that takes readers to places they never could have imagined...the author of this novel understands that and crafts a story filled with imagination, where one thing leads readers to surprises they never saw coming. Sam Mitani’s writing is strong and the author exhibits a gift for plot; the pacing is fast, and the plot structure is brilliantly imagined and executed with unusual skill.

Read the entire review here.


GT Planet

One of my favorite qualities of Sam’s writing in The Prototype is his specificity: he describes makes and models of real cars, guns, and helicopters in the book. It’s a subtle and effective way for the author to communicate that he loves this stuff just as much as the (likely) reader. I really did enjoy it. What’s not to like about a story with fast cars, guns, private jets, exotic locales, lots of action, and a relatable protagonist who was inspired by Gran Turismo? That’s about as good as it gets.

Read the entire review here.


Full disclosure: I know and like Sam Mitani. We have both worked at car magazines our entire adult lives. Fuller disclosure: I am a character in the book: the thinly disguised “Mark Taylor of Auto News Weekly.” It’s a fully functional spy thriller with fast cars, a couple private jets and several beautiful PR professionals. I hope they make a movie out of it. I want Redford to play me. No, he’s too old. Maybe Brad Pitt. 


Read the entire review here.

Japanese Nostalgic Car

Mitani’s first novel, The Prototype, was published this year. It tells the tale of a young auto journalist whose life is turned on its head when he stumbles into a conspiracy involving auto companies, Russian bad guys, and the CIA. Much of the story takes place in Japan, and Mitani’s details about the country, its landscape and, most importantly, its cars, are like no other in the world of spy stories.

Read the entire review here.

Car Data

The Prototype by Sam Mitani, a long-time writer for Road & Track magazine, begins as an insight to the world of pampered automotive journalists and quickly evolves into an international action thriller...The Prototype is an engaging read for automotive enthusiasts...with a side of fantastic speed and engaging storytelling that could only come from an insider.  Mitani nailed it on his first try.

Read the entire review here.


Sam Mitani’s new career as a writer of thrillers is off to a good start. Crisp, realistic, and non-stop action! Highly recommended!

--Robert Young Pelton,

NY Times best-selling author of License to Kill and The World's Most Dangerous Places

In this highly energized novel, Mitani's deep involvement with martial arts is very apparent. The fight scenes are realistic, and he manages to put you right in the middle of the action. 

--Lance Pugmire, award-winning boxing and MMA journalist

Former international auto writer Sam Mitani has managed to create a rousing page-turner. His intriguing female and male characters vicariously transport us to places we would never imagine.

 --Lisa-Renee Ramirez, multiple Emmy®-winning TV producer

A great action-filled novel with plenty of intrigue. Mitani delivers a great story that showcases his deep automotive background. A great read.

--Kazunori Yamauchi, creator of the Gran Turismo driving game

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