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A Fistful of Rain

A Fistful of Rain

4.6 14
by Greg Rucka

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Greg Rucka has earned the kind of reputation that all thriller writers envy: his crime fiction grabs readers by the throat and compels them to read as if their own lives were at stake. Now, in an electrifying departure, Rucka creates a new kind of hero: a damaged young woman in free fall who’s not only in danger—but dangerous.

A Fistful of


Greg Rucka has earned the kind of reputation that all thriller writers envy: his crime fiction grabs readers by the throat and compels them to read as if their own lives were at stake. Now, in an electrifying departure, Rucka creates a new kind of hero: a damaged young woman in free fall who’s not only in danger—but dangerous.

A Fistful of Rain

Mim Bracca is riding the fast lane straight off the end of the world. Now she’s coming home without a job, without a future, and without a prayer—and only one last chance to get her feet under her, or go down forever. But home has its own terrors, including a past Mim has done everything possible to leave behind.

Now that past is coming back with the shocking speed and deadly intent of a sniper’s bullet, aimed to destroy her once and for all. When Mim suffers her first blackout, waking up dazed and bloodied, she’s certain she’s hit rock bottom.

She’s wrong. She’s only just begun to fall.

The photos are invasive, obscene, and all over the Internet for anyone to see. How they got there, where and when they were shot, and by whom, Mim has no idea. And before the investigation into the matter even begins, a brutal murder makes it clear that whatever Mim thinks her life has been up to now, she’s about to learn it’s all a lie.

The kind of lie that will kill.

Written with stunning originality, A Fistful of Rain crosses the line separating the guilty from the innocent as it takes us on a breakneck ride of deceit and double cross and—quite possibly—the last twenty-four hours in Mim Bracca’s stormy life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rucka, author of five other thrillers, knows how to create and sustain suspense."—Publisher's Weekly
The Washington Post
Rucka is spot-on when it comes to depicting the frenzy that ensues when a rock band achieves stardom and the industry sharks start circling, hoping for a bite of the profits. His love of music shines through in the story, as does his fascination with complex, destructive personalities like Mim Bracca. The reader quickly grows to care about her as much as the author clearly does. — Katy Munger
Publishers Weekly
Loaded with grim, brooding detail-from the title quote (a Warren Zevon lyric) to the gallons of Jack Daniel's and beer with which rock musician Mim Bracca marinates her life-Rucka's latest thriller is bleakly atmospheric. His dark portrayals of the music scene, especially in his native Portland, Ore., are pitch perfect. Even the wildly improbable plot has strong moments of real terror and palpable personal tragedy. The real problem is Bracca herself. As a tough female cop shouts at her, "I have never encountered someone as stupid as you about helping herself." Sent home to Portland from the world tour of her hot new rock band, Tailhook, after her drinking gets way out of hand, Bracca immediately finds herself in another kind of nightmare. She is stalked and her privacy is violated; nude photos of her flood the Internet. She is also suspected of murdering her deceptively solid older brother and then of kidnapping and possibly killing their father, just released from prison, where he served 15 years for running over their mother in a drunken rage. Rucka, author of five other thrillers, including the popular Atticus Kodiak series (Finder; Keeper), knows how to create and sustain suspense. But Mim-despite what we learn about the various foster homes she was sent to before finding the musical family that nurtured her-remains such a boozy enigma that readers are likely to find their interest in her problems ebbing long before the tangled denouement. (Aug. 5) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Off-key thriller about the agonies of a boozy rock star who's crocked around the clock. Abruptly exiled from her band's European tour, Mim Bracca arrives home in Portland, Oregon, one very unhappy guitarist. Mim is beautiful and brilliant-she can make guitar strings smoke, her manager insists-and her fellow musicians appreciate her talent, but the fact is she's a fall-down drunk who's reached the point of diminishing returns. The band can't any longer put up with her benders. Ironically, then, as Tailhook's music climbs the charts, converting Mim into an icon, rich and famous, her life force sags and now is about to bottom. Having paid off the cabbie, she's reaching into her purse for keys to the house she hasn't seen for four months, when a man springs out of the darkness and levels a gun at her-prelude to rape or murder, she feels certain. Neither happens-for reasons she comes to understand only later. Actually, it's her drug-dealing brother who gets himself murdered, and her ex-convict father, Mim thinks (for a while), did the killing. In the meantime, humiliating pictures of her (naked, grossly provocative) have surfaced on the Internet: pictures she swears at first, to her lawyer, she never posed for, subsequently acknowledging that "Sometimes I black out." Enigmatic figures from her troubled past reenter Mim's life, bringing with them threats of kidnapping, blackmail, belated retribution. And then there's Portland police detective Tracy Hoffman, so tough and smart, so very attractive, bringing with her . . . complications. With so many of those cluttering up her life, where can poor, beset Mim look for help? Often as not, in a bottle. In the past, Rucka has done extremely well withedgy heroines (Critical Space, 2001, etc.), but his self-absorbed, self-loathing rock goddess is just not likable-and name the novel that can survive that. Agent: David Hale Smith/DHS Literary

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.89(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The hangover was waiting for me when the plane from Sydney landed in Los Angeles. Which was as it should be, because I’d started drinking in the Red Carpet Club, and hadn’t stopped until well after the International Dateline.

The looks the flight crew and fellow passengers rifled at me when I got off the plane had me thinking I’d been a less-than-model passenger, that I’d perhaps done something mortifying, but no one said a word, and I wasn’t about to ask. There was no vomit drying on my clothes that I could see, and I still had my pants on right way round, so whatever it was, it couldn’t have been that bad.

Certainly it couldn’t be any worse than what I’d left behind in Australia.

The vise really began tightening at each temple as I was waiting to pass through customs, and it was a bad one mostly because I was still tagging after the drunk pretty closely. The world was dull and dizzying, and maybe that was why I got pulled from the line, but then again, maybe it wasn’t. I took it without protest, just the way our manager, Graham Havers, had taught each of us in our little band to take it. Celebrity status has perks, but it also means that there’s always someone looking to take you down a peg or ten. It’s not as if musicians—or more precisely, musicians who play “popular music”—are known for living a Seventh-Day Adventist lifestyle.

The search was thorough, and the agents were, too. They asked if I had any contraband, specifically drugs. They asked it repeatedly, trying to trip me up. They had me turn out my pockets. They shook out my jacket. They patted me down. They even tore open my packet of cigarettes, checking each tube of precious nicotine to make certain it was filled with tobacco, nothing more.

When they’d finished with my bags I started to take off my shirt but the supervising agent stopped me, saying, “What are you doing?”

“Isn’t this what you want?” I asked. I impressed myself by not slurring. “I mean, isn’t this what, you know, what you want?”

His eyes went to flint. “No.”

“Oh,” I said, and tucked back in. “Well, then, my mistake. Right? My mistake?”

“I’d say so.”

I got my things together and he held the door for me out of the little examination room, letting me pass through. I impressed myself again by not wobbling.

“I’ve made a few,” I told him.

“I’m sorry?”

“Mistakes,” I said. “I’ve made a few.”

I had to stop in a ladies’ room before switching terminals, and I gave until it hurt. When I emerged, there was a photographer waiting outside—he must have picked me up coming through customs—and he shouted my name when I emerged.

“Mim! Bracca! Hey! Gimme something I can sell!”

I got my hands up before I heard the whirring of the speed-winder, one to shield my face, one to let him know just what I thought of him and his Minolta, and then I was shoving through clumps of fellow travelers, and that was the end of the encounter, such as it was. It made me feel a little better; if he ever bothered to develop the roll, he’d have some lovely close-ups of the calluses on the fingertips of my left hand, and of the middle finger on my right.

The flight was delayed due to fog in San Francisco, which has happened to me more times than I can remember, and which never makes any sense each time it does. I’m flying Los Angeles to Portland, why the hell does fog in San Francisco factor into that equation?

Between that and the security I was on the ground another six hours before boarding. I sucked smoke in the Cigarette Ghetto near the gate, an outdoor area ringed with stone benches and overflow- ing ashtrays, wishing I had one of my guitars with me. Of the five I’d taken on tour, four were being shipped back separately. The Telecaster was traveling as luggage. I spent most of the wait dozing, the kind of drunken nod-off that’s punctuated by alarming jerks of the head as you realize you might have slept through something important.

Somehow I managed to get on board at the right time, and once I was safely in my new seat, I fell asleep—or more precisely, passed out—again. I missed the safety spiel, which was probably just as well, because I had a dim memory of getting maudlin during it on the last flight. It wasn’t like I was denying myself lifesaving knowledge; I’d flown so much in the past year that I’d suffered nosebleeds from all the recycled high-altitude air.

It was the jolt-bounce-slide that accompanies every wet-weather landing in Portland that woke me, and I came to cotton-mouthed and with the headache worse than ever. I was finally sober, but I still wasn’t certain that was a good thing.

The terminal was mostly empty, and filled with the strange muted sounds that airports and hospitals share in the dead hours. I stopped at the restroom again, gargled with water from a drinking fountain, and by the time I was actually walking the concourse, I was doing it alone. The kiosk near the security checkpoint had an LED reader, and it welcomed me to the Rose City, Portland, Oregon, and told me it was one-sixteen in the morning Pacific daylight time, on October 22, a Monday.

That seemed important to me, but before I could remind myself why my eye caught something else, locked behind the secured gate of a closed newsstand.

The new issue of Rolling Stone, face out on display, between stacks of People and Entertainment Weekly. Nice cover photograph, typical crap Stone fare, vibrant color, big logo. Three twentysomethings standing on a rugged beach, wind snapping hair and fabric. Two women, one man, all of them staring at the lens, all with their own expressions.

Vanessa front and center, wearing her stage outfit, the outfit she wanted the world to think she wore every day, and not just during a gig: black leather pants that took her ten minutes to pull on; white half-tank with a small mushroom cloud parked between her breasts, cut off above the navel, revealing the stomach of someone who had starved herself for two days before the shoot; black bra straps showing a calculatedly feminine touch of lace; bright red lipstick highlighting her pout, leaning in at you, one hand in her hair, as if about to make an offer no red-blooded male could refuse. She can’t be older than twenty-four, you think, looking at that shot. Truth is, Van’s creeping up on thirty faster than she’d care to admit. If the wind has made her cold, it’s not like she’s noticed.

Over Van’s right shoulder, Click, the self-proclaimed token black man of Tailhook. Lean, looking someplace in his mid-twenties, head shaved, eyebrows pierced, tattoos visible creeping up the sides of his neck from beneath the collar of his Portland Winterhawks team jersey. His blue jeans torn as if they’re one wash away from losing the key thread, the one thread that’s holding that decrepit denim together. On his feet, mismatched Chuck Taylor All Stars, red on the right foot, green on the left. Each hand balled in a fist, like he’s ready to fight, but not eager. Like he’ll trade blows if that is what’s expected of him, nothing more. No malice on his face, just a trace of apathy, or maybe boredom.

And over Van’s left shoulder another woman, black ringlets styled like dreadlocks framing her face. Brown eyes on you, mouth closed, looking like she’s afraid she might swallow a bug. Lines of small hoops running from earlobe to cartilage on each side, starting big enough to fit a thumb tip, ending small enough that maybe a Q-tip wouldn’t slide through. Standing on a rock to give her a much needed boost in height, so that with the assist in elevation her head is almost but not quite level with Click’s shoulder. Black tank top revealing blue-black tattoos on each arm—right side a tribal band, left a howling wolf. Baggy olive drab cargo pants, and black Doc Martens. Made up to appear as if there’s no makeup at all. Her arms crossed over her chest, only because she doesn’t know what else to do with them when there’s no guitar for her to hold.



My bags were spinning lonely on the carousel when I went to claim them, and I put the strap to my duffel over my shoulder and took my guitar case in my hand. The flight case the guitar had traveled in looked none the worse for wear, but I was still relieved to have the Tele back in my possession. There’s no one I’d take a bullet for, but I’d jump in front of a bazooka to save my Telecaster.

Once outside I lit a smoke, then looked for the car. I didn’t see it anywhere, and was starting to get peeved when I realized that there wasn’t going to be one waiting, this time.

It bothered me that that bothered me.

So I went to the cab stand instead, where a Rose City Taxi driver was already opening his trunk in preparation for my fare. I put my bags in the back, laying the guitar case on the top, and the driver went around to his door, and I went around to mine. It was cold and raining, light but steady, and it felt nice. I stood there with the door open, enjoying the weather, and it was then that I realized why October 22 mattered, why it was significant.

It was the day we’d left on our tour.

It had taken me a year to come home.


As it happened, a man with a gun kept me from my bed for a little longer.

Meet the Author

Born in San Francisco, Greg Rucka was raised on the Monterey Peninsula. He is the author of Private Wars, A Gentleman’s Game, and six previous thrillers, as well as numerous comic books, including the Eisner Award—winning Whiteout: Melt. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his family.

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Fistful of Rain 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Not suspenseful but entertaining
JimJF 11 months ago
This was a good departure from the mundane story lines
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, great tension. Looking forward to another good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt put this book down and would fall asleep reading and have to go back the next day. I can usually figure out who done it before a story is done. Had me hooked to the end. Will read more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hip, creative setting and a compelling protagonist.
Seth McClelland-Bane More than 1 year ago
Another great story, and one with a queer protagonist set in Portland no less. I felt like it ended sort of abruptly, and I would have liked some more resolution of the less thrilling, more personal problems, but it was still a fun read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
To fall for Rucka. I liked this book so much that I bought all of his other books because of it. Fistful is incredibly well written and flows so well that I was two hours in after just meaning to take a glance. Rucka's other books are variable, but all good. The Atticus Kodiak ones really need to be read in order and while the first is good, they get better and better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. I read a lot of mysteries and this one was one of the best. I realized at one point while reading that I wasn't breathing. I stopped, took a breathe and jumped right into the next chapter. Miriam Bracca was like no one I have ever known but so real and her way of life was written so I could see her suffering and I hoped for the best for her. My applause goes to Greg Rucka for a superb job.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an absolutely fabulous read!!! It was one of those that I couldn't wait to get home and pick it back up! I look forward to more of this type of book from Greg Rucka!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mim Bracca is hurting - alcoholic, out of control, she's been temporarily booted from her hit rock band until she can get her act together. Returning to her hometown in Oregon, she finds more awaiting her than just the pitfalls of stardom - kidnapping and murder for a start. Either drunk, hungover, remorseful, or any combination thereof, Mim tries to deal with the disastrous events in her life and face down the demons of her past. A tightly-written, suspenseful story. I look forward to reading more of Greg Rucka's books.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Famous and rich rock star Mim Bracca is notorious for getting drunk and blacking out and it becomes bad enough that her band sends her back home to Portland to dry out. Before she enters her new home, someone kidnaps her. They drive around for a few hours before he drops her back at her home. The police don¿t believe her because she is famous for her lies.

Her day gets much worse when her brother Mikel drops by to tell her their father, after serving fifteen years for killing their mother, is out and living with him. Just when she thinks life can¿t get any lower, pornographic pictures of her, which she didn¿t pose for appears on the net. While trying to solve that problem she walks in to her brother¿s place and finds him dead, a bullet in his head. When someone kidnaps her father for a $1,000,000 ransom, Mim stops getting defensive and works up the courage to track down the kidnapper before he can kill her and her father.

The protagonist is an alcoholic but she is able to stay away from the bottle long enough to come up with a plan to try to get her and her father out of trouble. She¿s gutsy, feisty, and vulnerable, a combination that endears her to the audience who will root for her in the hope that she can get her act together. A FISTFUL OF RAIN is a suspense thriller that is a dark and gritty as Greg Rucka pulls no punches with this one sitting novel.

Harriet Klausner