Rain Fall (John Rain Series #1)

( 56 )

Overview

John Rain kills people.  For a living.  His specialty: making it seem like death by natural causes.  But he won't kill just anyone.  The target must be a principal player.  And never a woman.  Half American, half Japanese-but out of place in both worlds-Rain is filled with opportunities.  John Rain may not be a good man, but he's good at what he does...

Until he falls for the beautiful daughter of his last ...

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Overview

John Rain kills people.  For a living.  His specialty: making it seem like death by natural causes.  But he won't kill just anyone.  The target must be a principal player.  And never a woman.  Half American, half Japanese-but out of place in both worlds-Rain is filled with opportunities.  John Rain may not be a good man, but he's good at what he does...

Until he falls for the beautiful daughter of his last kill.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Set in a memorable noir version of Tokyo (jazz clubs, whiskey bars, "love hotels"), Eisler's rich and atmospheric debut thriller winds its way around the city's extensive rail system and its upscale Western boutiques -- Mulberry, Paul Stuart, Nicole Farhi London, Le Ciel Bleu, J.M. Weston. The author -- an American lawyer who has lived and worked in Japan -- brings to life a complex and most interesting hero: John Rain, a hard and resourceful man in his 40s with an American mother, a Japanese father, a childhood spent in both countries and a stretch with Special Operations in Vietnam that literally made him what he is today -- a highly paid freelance assassin. The book begins with Rain arranging the death (on the subway) of a prominent government figure by short-circuiting his pacemaker and making it look like the man died of a heart attack. But Rain's relatively simple life suddenly becomes very complicated when he finds himself involved both romantically and professionally with the dead man's lovely daughter, Midori, a talented jazz pianist. Formidable adversaries -- a nasty CIA agent from Rain's Vietnam days; a right-wing guru who uses Shinto priests as spies and yakuza gangsters as enforcers; a tireless, old cop -- seem intent on exposing Rain and eliminating Midori. There are several excellent action scenes, an amusing and touching young computer nerd who is Rain's only reliable ally, and, most of all, an intriguing and intimate evocation of Japan's intense love-hate relationship with America.

Forecast: Widespread international interest in Eisler's debut (rights already sold in Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.) indicates the cosmopolitan appeal of the book; a blurb from James Ellroy suggests its popular potential. This could be the first installment in a hit series -- Eisler is already working on a sequel.

Publishers Weekly
Set in a memorable noir version of Tokyo (jazz clubs, whiskey bars, "love hotels"), Eisler's rich and atmospheric debut thriller winds its way around the city's extensive rail system and its upscale Western boutiques Mulberry, Paul Stuart, Nicole Farhi London, Le Ciel Bleu, J.M. Weston. The author an American lawyer who has lived and worked in Japan brings to life a complex and most interesting hero: John Rain, a hard and resourceful man in his 40s with an American mother, a Japanese father, a childhood spent in both countries and a stretch with Special Operations in Vietnam that literally made him what he is today a highly paid freelance assassin. The book begins with Rain arranging the death (on the subway) of a prominent government figure by short-circuiting his pacemaker and making it look like the man died of a heart attack. But Rain's relatively simple life suddenly becomes very complicated when he finds himself involved both romantically and professionally with the dead man's lovely daughter, Midori, a talented jazz pianist. Formidable adversaries a nasty CIA agent from John's Vietnam days; a right-wing guru who uses Shinto priests as spies and yakuza gangsters as enforcers; a tireless old cop seem intent on exposing Rain and eliminating Midori. There are several excellent action scenes, an amusing and touching young computer nerd who is Rain's only reliable ally and, most of all, an intriguing and intimate evocation of Japan's intense love-hate relationship with America. (July 22) Forecast: Widespread international interest in Eisler's debut (rights have been sold in Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.) indicates the cosmopolitan appeal of the book; a blurb from James Ellroy suggests its popular potential. This could be the first installment in a hit series Eisler is already working on a sequel. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Like Burke, Andrew Vachss's vigilante, and Keller, Lawrence Block's hit man, John Rain, the hero of this debut thriller, is an alienated loner living outside the law and the conventional ties of society. A "half-breed" (his father was Japanese, his mother American) and a Vietnam veteran trained by the U.S. Special Forces, Rain now works as a hired assassin in Tokyo. His specialty? Making the hits look like "death by natural causes." But when his routine killing of a government official ("death by heart attack") in a subway car draws the attention of an old friend turned cop and an old nemesis who is now the CIA station chief in Japan, Rain must find out why. His search leads him to the dead man's daughter, an alluring jazz pianist who may hold the key - a computer disk her father made detailing high-level corruption in the Japanese government. It's all rather silly, but Eisler, a lawyer who lived in Japan for several years, is a stylish writer and paints a fascinating portrait of contemporary Japanese life. With plenty of sex, exotic locations, martial arts action, and high-tech wizardry to keep James Bond fans happy, this is the perfect summer brain candy for the testosterone set. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/02.] - Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rich atmosphere and believable politics in a distinguished debut thriller. John Rain is a half-American, half-Japanese hit-man for unseen masters in Tokyo, where he passes for a native, though he knows he'll never completely belong. He has gotten rich by providing elegant eliminations of problem individuals for well-heeled, anonymous purchasers of his "consulting" service. The cold-bloodedness required for this chilling career comes from some very nasty experiences as a member of an American dirty-deeds outfit in Vietnam and from his childhood as an outsider, first in his father's Japan and then in his mother's America. Not that he's a complete monster-he won't kill children or women-but he's not particularly interested in the why or who of his contractors or victims. But then the technically satisfying murder (by remote control fritzing of his pacemaker in a subway car) of a ruling party bureaucrat begins to undo Rain's cool. First, the still-warm corpse of the bureaucrat gets frisked by a Westerner who pops up in the crowded subway car, and then it seems that Rain himself may be the object of a search. Working with his techie pal Harry, Rain follows threads leading to beautiful pianist Midori Kawamura, daughter of the guy he just killed. Sucked in both by her looks and her Julliard-honed jazz skills, Rain befriends Midori, who has no idea he did in Dad but who begins to wonder just what he's about when he bursts into her building to rescue her from intruders when he should have been on his way home. The intruders, the Westerner on the subway, and many others are all after a disk full of political corruption revelations that Midori's father was about to pass to the press just before Rainpulled the switch on his ticker. Rain's black belt comes in exceedingly handy many times before the disk slots into the proper drive. Pleasantly fast and polished, in the John Sandford style. More Rain predicted.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451209153
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Series: John Rain Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 130,000
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Eisler
Barry Eisler

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler’s bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous “Best of” lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

1

Harry cut through the morning rush-hour crowd like a shark fin through water. I was following from twenty meters back on the opposite side of the street, sweating with everyone else in the unseasonable October Tokyo heat, and I couldn't help admiring how well the kid had learned what I'd taught him. He was like liquid the way he slipped through a space just before it closed, or drifted to the left to avoid an emerging bottleneck. The changes in Harry's cadence were accomplished so smoothly that no one would recognize he had altered his pace to narrow the gap on our target, who was now moving almost conspicuously quickly down Dogenzaka toward Shibuya Station.

The target's name was Yasuhiro Kawamura. He was a career bureaucrat connected with the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP, the political coalition that has been running Japan almost without a break since the war. His current position was vice minister of land and infrastructure at the Kokudokotsusho, the successor to the old Construction Ministry and Transport Ministry, where he had obviously done something to seriously offend someone because serious offense is the only reason I ever get a call from a client.

I heard Harry's voice in my ear: "He's going into the Higashimura fruit store. I'll set up ahead." We were each sporting a Danish-made, microprocessor-controlled receiver small enough to nestle in the ear canal, where you'd need a flashlight to find it. A voice transmitter about the same size goes under the jacket lapel. The transmissions are burst UHF, which makes them very hard to pick up if you don't know exactly what you're looking for, and they're scrambled in case you do. The equipment freed us from having to maintain constant visual contact, and allowed us to keep moving for a while if the target stopped or changed direction. So even though I was too far back to see it, I knew where Kawamura had exited, and I could continue walking for some time before having to stop to keep my position behind him. Solo surveillance is difficult, and I was glad I had Harry with me.

About twenty meters from the Higashimura, I turned off into a drugstore, one of the dozens of open-faade structures that line Dogenzaka, catering to the Japanese obsession with health nostrums and germ fighting. Shibuya is home to many different buzoku, or tribes, and members of several were represented here this morning, united by a common need for one of the popular bottled energy tonics in which the drugstores specialize, tonics claiming to be bolstered with ginseng and other exotic ingredients but delivering instead with a more prosaic jolt of ordinary caffeine. Waiting in front of the register were several gray-suited sarariman-"salary man," corporate rank and file-their faces set, cheap briefcases dangling from tired hands, fortifying themselves for another interchangeable day in the maw of the corporate machine. Behind them, two empty-faced teenage girls, their hair reduced to steel-wool brittleness by the dyes they used to turn it orange, noses pierced with oversized rings, their costumes meant to proclaim rejection of the traditional route chosen by the sarariman in front of them but offering no understanding of what they had chosen instead. And a gray-haired retiree, his skin sagging but his face oddly bright, probably in Shibuya to avail himself of one of the area's well-known sexual services, which he would pay for out of a pension account that he kept hidden from his wife, not realizing that she knew what he was up to and simply didn't care.

I wanted to give Kawamura about three minutes to get his fruit before I came out, so I examined a selection of bandages that gave me a view of the street. The way he had ducked into the store looked like a move calculated to flush surveillance, and I didn't like it. If we hadn't been hooked up the way we were, Harry would have had to stop abruptly to maintain his position behind the target. He might have had to do something ridiculous, like tie his shoe or stop to read a street sign, and Kawamura, probably peering out of the entranceway of the store, could have made him. Instead, I knew Harry would continue past the fruit store; he would stop about twenty meters ahead, give me his location, and fall in behind when I told him the parade was moving again.

The fruit store was a good spot to turn off, all right-too good for someone who knew the route to have chosen it by accident. But Harry and I weren't going to be flushed out by amateur moves out of some government antiterrorist primer. I've had that training, so I know how useful it is.

I left the drugstore and continued down Dogenzaka, more slowly than before because I had to give Kawamura time to come out of the store. Shorthand thoughts shot through my mind: Are there enough people between us to obscure his vision if he turns when he comes out? What shops am I passing if I need to duck off suddenly? Is anyone looking up the street at the people heading toward the station, maybe helping Kawamura spot surveillance? If I had already drawn any countersurveillance attention, they might notice me now, because before I was hurrying to keep up with the target and now I was taking my time, and people on their way to work don't change their pace that way. But Harry had been the one walking point, the more conspicuous position, and I hadn't done anything to arouse attention before stopping in the drugstore.

I heard Harry again: "I'm at one-oh-nine." Meaning he had turned into the landmark 109 Department Store, famous for its collection of 109 restaurants and trendy boutiques.

"No good," I told him. "The first floor is lingerie. You going to blend in with fifty teenage girls in blue sailor school uniforms picking out padded bras?"

"I was planning to wait outside," he replied, and I could imagine him blushing.

The front of 109 is a popular meeting place, typically crowded with a polyglot collection of pedestrians. "Sorry, I thought you were going for the lingerie," I said, suppressing the urge to smile. "Just hang back and wait for my signal as we go past."

"Right."

The fruit store was only ten meters ahead, and still no sign of Kawamura. I was going to have to slow down. I was on the opposite side of the street, outside Kawamura's probable range of concern, so I could take a chance on just stopping, maybe to fiddle with a cell phone. Still, if he looked, he would spot me standing there, even though, with my father's Japanese features, I don't have a problem blending into the crowds. Harry, a pet name for Haruyoshi, being born of two Japanese parents, has never had to worry about sticking out.

When I returned to Tokyo in the early eighties, my brown hair, a legacy from my mother, worked for me the way a fluorescent vest does for a hunter, and I had to dye it black to develop the anonymity that protects me now. But in the last few years the country has gone mad for chappatsu, or tea-color dyed hair, and I don't have to be so vigilant about the dye anymore. I like to tell Harry he's going to have to go chappatsu if he wants to fit in, but Harry's too much of an otaku, a geek, to give much thought to issues like personal appearance. I guess he doesn't have that much to work with, anyway: an awkward smile that always looks like it's offered in anticipation of a blow, a tendency to blink rapidly when he's excited, a face that's never lost its baby fat, its pudginess accentuated by a shock of thick black hair that on bad days seems almost to float above it. But the same qualities that keep him off magazine covers confer the unobtrusiveness that makes for effective surveillance.

I had reached the point where I was sure I was going to have to stop when Kawamura popped out of the fruit store and reentered the flow. I hung back as much as possible to increase the space between us, watching his head bobbing as he moved down the street. He was tall for a Japanese and that helped, but he was wearing a dark suit like ninety percent of the other people in this crowd-including Harry and me, naturally, so I couldn't drop back too far.

Just as I'd redeveloped the right distance, he stopped and turned to light a cigarette. I continued moving slowly behind and to the right of the group of people that separated us, knowing he wouldn't be able to make me moving with the crowd. I kept my attention focused on the backs of the suits in front of me, just a bored morning commuter. After a moment he turned and started moving again.

I allowed myself the trace of a satisfied smile. Japanese don't stop to light cigarettes; if they did, they'd lose weeks over the course of their adult lives. Nor was there any reason, such as a strong headwind threatening to blow out a match, for him to turn and face the crowd behind him. Kawamura's obvious attempt at countersurveillance simply confirmed his guilt.

Guilt of what I don't know, and in fact I never ask. I insist on only a few questions. Is the target a man? I don't work against women or children. Have you retained anyone else to solve this problem? I don't want my operation getting tripped up by someone's idea of a B-team, and if you retain me, it's an exclusive. Is the target a principal? I solve problems directly, like the soldier I once was, not by sending messages through uninvolved third parties like a terrorist. The concerns behind the last question are why I like to see independent evidence of guilt: It confirms that the target is indeed the principal and not a clueless innocent.

Twice in eighteen years the absence of that evidence has stayed my hand. Once I was sent against the brother of a newspaper editor who was publishing stories on corruption in a certain politician's home district. The other time it was against the father of a bank reformer who showed excessive zeal in investigating the size and nature of his institution's bad debts. I would have been willing to act directly against the editor and the reformer, had I been retained to do so, but apparently the clients in question had reason to pursue a more circuitous route that involved misleading me. They are no longer clients, of course. Not at all.

I'm not a mercenary, although I was nothing more than that once upon a time. And although I do in a sense live a life of service, I am no longer samurai, either. The essence of samurai is not just service, but loyalty to his master, to a cause greater than himself. There was a time when I burned with loyalty, a time when, suffused with the samurai ethic I had absorbed from escapist novels and comics as a boy in Japan, I was prepared to die in the service of my adopted liege lord, the United States. But loves as uncritical and unrequited as that one can never last, and usually come to a dramatic end, as mine did. I am a realist now.

As I came to the 109 building I said, "Passing." Not into my lapel or anything stupid like that; the transmitters are sensitive enough so that you don't need to make any subtle movements that are like billboards for a trained countersurveillance team. Not that one was out there, but you always assume the worst. Harry would know I was passing his position and would fall in after a moment.

Actually, the popularity of cell phones with earpieces makes this kind of work easier than it once was. It used to be that someone walking alone and talking under his breath was either demented or an intelligence or security agent. Today you see this sort of behavior all the time among Japan's keitai, or cell phone, generation.

The light at the bottom of Dogenzaka was red, and the crowd congealed as we approached the five-street intersection in front of the train station. Garish neon signs and massive video monitors flashed frantically on the buildings around us. A diesel-powered truck ground its gears as it slogged through the intersection, laborious as a barge in a muddy river, its bullhorns blaring distorted right-wing patriotic songs that momentarily drowned out the bells commuters on bicycles were ringing to warn pedestrians out of the way. A street hawker angled a pushcart through the crowds, sweat running down the sides of his face, the smell of steamed fish and rice following in his zigzagging wake. An ageless homeless man, probably a former sarariman who had lost his job and his moorings when the bubble burst in the late eighties, slept propped against the base of a streetlight, inured by alcohol or despair to the tempest around him.

The Dogenzaka intersection is like this night and day, and at rush hour, when the light turns green, over three hundred people step off the curb at the same instant, with another twenty-five thousand waiting in the crush. From here on, it was going to be shoulder to shoulder, chest to back. I would keep close to Kawamura now, no more than five meters, which would put about two hundred people between us. I knew he had a commuter pass and wouldn't need to go to the ticket machine. Harry and I had purchased our tickets in advance so we would be able to follow him right through the wickets. Not that the attendant would notice one way or the other. At rush hour, they're practically numbed by the hordes; you could flash anything, a baseball card, probably, and in you'd go.

The light changed, and the crowds swept into one another like a battle scene from some medieval epic. An invisible radar I'm convinced is possessed only by Tokyoites prevented a mass of collisions in the middle of the street. I watched Kawamura as he cut diagonally across to the station, and maneuvered in behind him as he passed. There were five people between us as we surged past the attendant's booth. I had to stay close now. It would be chaos when the train pulled in: five thousand people pouring out, five thousand people stacked fifteen deep waiting to get on, everyone jockeying for position. Foreigners who think of Japan as a polite society have never ridden the Yamanote at rush hour.

The river of people flowed up the stairs and onto the platform, and the sounds and smells of the station seemed to arouse an extra sense of urgency in the crowd. We were swimming upstream against the people who had just gotten off the train, and as we reached the platform the doors were already closing on handbags and the odd protruding elbow. By the time we had passed the kiosk midway down the platform, the last car had passed us and a moment later it was gone. The next train would arrive in two minutes.

Kawamura shuffled down the middle of the platform. I stayed behind him but hung back from the tracks, avoiding his wake. He was looking up and down the platform, but even if he had spotted Harry or me earlier, seeing us waiting for the train wasn't going to unnerve him. Half the people waiting had just walked down Dogenzaka.

I felt the rumble of the next train as Harry walked past me like a fighter jet buzzing a carrier control tower, the slightest nod of his head indicating that the rest was with me. I had told him I only needed his help until Kawamura was on the train, which is where he had always gone during our previous surveillance. Harry had done his usual good work in helping me get close to the target, and, per our script, he was now exiting the scene. I would contact him later, when I was done with the solo aspects of the job.

Harry thinks I'm a private investigator and that all I do is follow these people around collecting information. To avoid the suspicious appearance of a too-high mortality rate for the subjects we track, I often have him follow people in whom I have no interest, who of course then provide some measure of cover by continuing to live their happy and oblivious lives. Also, where possible, I avoid sharing the subject's name with Harry to minimize the chances that he'll come across too many coincidental obituaries. Still, some of our subjects do have a habit of dying at the end of surveillance, and I know Harry has a curious mind. So far he hasn't asked, which is good. I like Harry as an asset and wouldn't want him to become a liability.

I moved up close behind Kawamura, just another commuter trying to get a good position for boarding the train. This was the most delicate part of the operation. If I flubbed it, he would make me and it would be difficult to get sufficiently close to him for a second try.

My right hand dipped into my pants pocket and touched a microprocessor-controlled magnet, about the size and weight of a quarter. On one side the magnet was covered with blue worsted cloth, like that of the suit Kawamura was wearing. Had it been necessary, I could have stripped away the blue to expose a layer of gray, which was the other color Kawamura favored. On the opposite side of the magnet was an adhesive backing.

I withdrew the magnet from my pocket and protected it from view by cupping it in my hands. I would have to wait for the right moment, when Kawamura's attention was distracted. Mildly distracted would be enough. Maybe as we were boarding the train. I peeled off the wax paper covering the adhesive and crumbled it into my left pants pocket.

The train emerged at the end of the platform and hurtled toward us. Kawamura pulled a cell phone out of his breast pocket. Started to input a number.

Okay, do it now. I brushed past him, placing the magnet on his suit jacket just below the left shoulder blade, and moved several paces down the platform.

Kawamura spoke into the phone for only a few seconds, too softly for me to hear over the screeching brakes of the train slowing to a halt in front of us, and then slipped the phone back in his left breast pocket. I wondered whom he had called. It didn't matter. Two stations ahead, three at the most, and it would be done.

The train stopped and its doors opened, releasing a gush of human effluent. When the outflow slowed to a trickle, the lines waiting on either side of the doors collapsed inward and poured inside, as though someone had hit the reverse switch on a giant vacuum. People kept jamming themselves in despite the warnings that "The doors are closing," and the mass of commuters grew more swollen until we were all held firmly in place, with no need to grip the overhead handles because there was nowhere to fall. The doors shut, the car lurched forward, and we moved off.

I exhaled slowly and rotated my head from side to side, hearing the bones crack in my neck, feeling the last remnants of nervousness drain away as we reached the final moments. It has always been this way for me. When I was a teenager, I lived for a while near a town that had a network of gorges cutting through it, and at some of them you could jump from the cliffs into deep swimming holes. You could see the older kids doing it all the time-it didn't look so far up. The first time I climbed to the top and looked down, though, I couldn't believe how high I was, and I froze. But the other kids were watching. And right then, I knew that no matter how afraid I was, no matter what might happen, I was going to jump, and some instinctive part of me shut down my awareness of everything except the simple, muscular action of running forward. I had no other perceptions, no awareness of any future beyond the taking of those brisk steps. I remember thinking that it didn't even matter if I died.

Kawamura was standing in front of the door at one end of the car, about a meter from where I was positioned, his right hand holding one of the overhead bars. I needed to stay close now.

The word I had gotten was that this had to look natural: my specialty, and the reason my services are always in demand. Harry had obtained Kawamura's medical records from Jikei University Hospital, which showed that he had a condition called complete heart block and owed his continuing existence to a pacemaker installed five years earlier.

I twisted so that my back was to the doors-a slight breach of Tokyo's minimal train etiquette, but I didn't want anyone who might speak English to see the kinds of prompts that were going to appear on the screen of the PDA computer I was carrying. I had downloaded a cardiac interrogation program into it, the kind a doctor uses to adjust a patient's pacemaker. And I had rigged it so that the PDA fed infrared commands to the control magnet. The only difference between my setup and a cardiologist's was that mine was miniaturized and wireless. That, and I hadn't taken the Hippocratic oath.

The PDA was already turned on and in sleep mode, so it powered up instantly. I glanced down at the screen. It was flashing "pacing parameters." I hit the Enter key and the screen changed, giving me an option of "threshold testing" and "sensing testing." I selected the former and was offered a range of parameters: rate, pulse width, amplitude. I chose rate and quickly set the pacemaker at its lowest rate limit of forty beats per minute, then returned to the previous screen and selected pulse width. The screen indicated that the pacemaker was set to deliver current at durations of .48 milliseconds. I decreased the pulse width as far as it would go, then changed to amplitude. The unit was preset at 8.5 volts, and I started dropping it a half volt at a time. When I had taken it down two full volts, the screen flashed, "You have now decreased unit amplitude by two volts. Are you sure you want to continue to decrease unit amplitude?" I entered, "Yes" and went on, repeating the sequence every time I took it down two volts.

When the train pulled into Yoyogi Station, Kawamura stepped off. Was he getting off here? That would be a problem: the unit's infrared had limited range, and it would be a challenge to operate it and follow him closely at the same time. Damn, just a few more seconds, I thought, bracing to follow him out. But he was only allowing the people behind him to leave the train, and stopped outside the doors. When the Yoyogi passengers had exited he got back on, followed closely by several people who had been waiting on the platform. The doors closed, and we moved off again.

At two volts, the screen warned me that I was nearing minimum output values and it would be dangerous to further decrease output. I overrode the warning and took the unit down another half volt, glancing up at Kawamura as I did so. He hadn't changed his position.

When I reached a single volt and tried to go farther, the screen flashed, "Your command will set the unit at minimum output values. Are you certain that you wish to enter this command?" I entered "Yes." It prompted me one more time anyway: "You have programmed the unit to minimum output values. Please confirm." Again I entered, "Yes." There was a one-second delay, then the screen started flashing bold-faced letters: Unacceptable output values. Unacceptable output values.

I closed the cover, but left the PDA on. It would reset automatically. There was always the chance that the sequence hadn't worked the first time around, and I wanted to be able to try again if I had to.

There wasn't any need. As the train pulled into Shinjuku Station and jerked to a stop, Kawamura stumbled against the woman next to him. The doors opened and the other passengers flowed out, but Kawamura remained, gripping one of the upright bars next to the door with his right hand and clutching his package of fruit with his left, commuters shoving past him. I watched him rotate counterclockwise until his back hit the wall next to the door. His mouth was open; he looked slightly surprised. Then slowly, almost gently, he slid to the floor. I saw one of the passengers who had gotten on at Yoyogi stoop down to assist him. The man, a mid-forties Westerner, tall and thin enough to make me think of a javelin, somehow aristocratic in his wireless glasses, shook Kawamura's shoulders, but Kawamura was past noticing the stranger's efforts at succor.

"Daijoubu desu ka?" I asked, my left hand moving to support Kawamura's back, feeling for the magnet. Is he all right? I used Japanese because it was likely that the Westerner wouldn't understand it and our interaction would be kept to a minimum.

"Wakaranai," the stranger muttered. I don't know. He patted Kawamura's increasingly bluish cheeks and shook him again-a bit roughly, I thought. So he did speak some Japanese. It didn't matter. I pinched the edge of the magnet and pulled it free. Kawamura was done.

I stepped past them onto the platform and the in-flow immediately began surging onto the train behind me. Glancing through the window nearest the door as I walked past, I was stunned to see the stranger going through Kawamura's pockets. My first thought was that Kawamura was being robbed. I moved closer to the window for a better look, but the growing crush of passengers obscured my view.

I had an urge to get back on, but that would have been stupid. Anyway, it was too late. The doors were already sliding shut. I saw them close and catch on something, maybe a handbag or a foot. They opened slightly and closed again. It was an apple, falling to the tracks as the train pulled away.

—from Rain Fall by Barry Eisler, Copyright © July 2002, Putnam Pub Group, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 16, 2011

    Extremely Recommended- Warning: Highly Addicting

    This is an extremely amazing book with realistic action, characters, and plot. It is about the underbelly of the Japanese system and one man doing what he does best for a new cause now. There is also a romance element to it when he falls in love with one of his victim's daughter. All in all an excellent read and will make you want to devour the other books in the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Non-traditional action hero is a great step for the genre!

    4.0 out of 5 stars Non-traditional action hero is a great step for the genre!, April 8, 2009

    John Rain, the protagonist of RAIN FALL, is a man between two cultures--Rain is neither American, nor Japanese. Even more so than caught between two cultures, Rain is forced to live outside both societies due to both the demons from his past and his current profession. Rain is a man that strives to rely and trust no one; however, not only does his partnership with a talented tech geek, Harry, begins to get closer than is comfortable--and, as if that wasn't enough to start trouble, Rain begins to develop feelings for the daughter of one of his victims. These two relationships (primarily the latter), pull Rain out of the comfortable, anonymous shadows he's lived in and into territory he's equally familiar with: danger.

    Unlike most popular action authors right now, Eisler's story and character casts off a pure American focus to embrace a more international feel. The mixed heritage of John Rain--and the resulting conflict that results from his lack of having a culture to truly call "home"--was a welcoming break from the standard fare of unquestioningly American heroes so common to the genre. Additionally, the jaded motivations and profession integral to the Rain series saves the reader from a long-suffering, unquestioningly-righteous martyr of a hero.

    By far the best aspect of Eisler's RAIN FALL was the amount of detail he packs into each scene. Rather than saying that John Rain walks down a street to stalk his human prey, Eisler says exactly what is happening in each moment. An assassin wouldn't just walk down a street, after all. Eisler gives the reader the benefit of Rain's experience (and necessary paranoia). As Rain walks down a street, he'll be juggling multiple considerations: counter-surveillance, how to run his own surveillance, possible dangers or problem zones, and how the person is to be assassinated. (Skeptical? Head on over to Barry Eisler's website and check out the RAIN FALL page to be able to preview the first chapter.)

    Now--to prove that Book Love Affair hasn't been completely swept away by Barry Eisler and RAIN FALL--there are some complaints. As with any debut novel, there are faults--the question often is if the faults can be overlooked or if they'll be improved in the future. While reading RAIN FALL, I found myself thinking: "I've seen this movie." (And, although a movie is slated to be released for RAIN FALL, that's not what I'm referring to.) Instead, what I mean is that some plot devices used are, perhaps, too common in the action genre. Regardless, I'm certain that this problem will resolve itself as the John Rain series progresses. I can't wait to start the next book: HARD RAIN.

    RAIN FALL is a must for action fans looking for a new perspective. Focus on the brilliant detailing rather than the plot and give the book a spin. Eisler's non-traditional action hero is a great step for the genre. Or, if you've already enjoyed Eisler's books, then you may wish to try out Vince Flynn or Lee Child (though the heroes can be almost a patriotic caricature of real characterization) or, if intrigued by the Japanese culture and heritage, perhaps try a book based in Japan or Japanese history. A good start in historical fiction based in Japan is James Clavell's Shogun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2014

    Very good start for a literary action hero. 

    Very good start for a literary action hero. 

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  • Posted January 20, 2014

    Just getting to know this author Eisler. I like reading an espio

    Just getting to know this author Eisler. I like reading an espionage/action author who's really worked at the Agency. His martial arts depictions are great too.

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  • Posted October 16, 2013

    This is a fun read. The author does not try to make the reader f

    This is a fun read. The author does not try to make the reader feel the story is compelling. Nor does the novel start off with four parallel plot stories and try to merge them somewhere down the line. What "makes" this novel good is the accurate information about Judo, the authentic utter corruption between labor, and government and a straightforward story line. Outstanding are the tidbits of Japanese life, little hideaway restaurants, the very real presence of rabid Japanese racism, and accurate Japanese customs and habits. This is a genuine "Hammock Book". It's got all the little rewards spiced throughout the novel to keep the reader interested. Yes, I intend to purchase book # 2 "Hard Rain". If you liked "Aztec" by Gary Jennings, I feel you would like this page turner as well.

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  • Posted May 27, 2012

    Pretty good for a series first

    Set in Tokyo, Jon Rain is a hired killer. The plot is pretty much what one expects ofd assassin novels, but the descriptions of the Japanese capital, Japanese culture and other things Japanese were the appealing point here.
    Would I read this one again? No. But I've moved through the next four 'Rain' novels. Interesting series.

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  • Posted April 22, 2012

    Okay but not a repeat read

    This was a very tough story to get into. It doesn't create a bond between the reader and the characters to pull you in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    Fun!

    Very good. Fast read.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A new good guy, bad guy assassin.

    I read a found book by Barry Eisler and enjoyed it so much I went right to Barnes and Noble and bought two more, "Hard Rain" and "Rain Fall". The character "Rain" is unique as a Japanese American assassin living variously in Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil and the USA. Barry Eisler has experience as a CIA operative at different command and administrative levels which gives him special insights into functions and abilities of the characters he has created. He gives them a ruthlessness and weakness that makes them more believable than many fictional story leads. The descriptions of locales that Rain travels to and operates in sparks the imagination and takes the reader right there on the spot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2010

    A waste of time.

    I was surprised at the "hero" of the book. He comes off as a heartless thug that enjoys killing people for no reason. In most of the books I read this guy would have been the villian. The book moves really slow, too. Lots of useless and long-winded explainations that add absoulutly nothing to the story. Reminds me of school when you had to write a story of 500 words or more. You came up with lots of useless stuff just to get the word count up.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2009

    Mystery Set in Japan

    Even in a second read, this was a riveting mystery. The locale of Japan added a special dimension to the intrigue of the plot and the personal dilemma of the main character. Eisler is an excellent author who needs to write more. His listings are limited at this time, but hopefully he is working on new material. GOOD READ!

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  • Posted February 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Phenomenal Assassin Fiction

    The realm of assassin fiction/high-tech secret agent type stories is a rather new horizon for me. That being said, 'Rain Fall' was excellent. It is a pure pleasure to actually learn something while being entertained, and Barry Eisler managed to do just that. The hero of the story, assassin for hire John Rain, is instantly likable owing to the fact that he seems very human but doesn't beg the reader for sympathy. There are heavy thematic elements emphasizing jazz and whiskey bars that add a real sense of atmosphere. If you're a fan of a good action story this is the one for you.

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  • Posted January 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun Read!

    This is a fun read! I have never read any of Barry Eisler's books before this one, and it will not be the last. The day I finished I ran out and bought the next in the series. Good characters, fast paced, edge of your seat, and a quick fun read. Not too terribly original in the plot department, but tense regardless. His writing reminds me of David Morrell or Robert Ludlum.

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  • Posted December 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hard to put down...

    This fast paced action thriller will have you skipping appointments to finish the next chapter. Eisler writes like a person who has "been there, done that" and he brings the reader straight into the streets of Japan. At the end of this book I was very thankful to discover that this is only the first of the John Rain series. I can't wait to get to the rest!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2004

    SWEET!!!!!!!

    First off, Im a teenager who likes a good book. Having said that One day I was looking for a story, and I found this. The book, 'Rain Fall' I was intrigued so I picked it up. WOW! this book is amazing. I coundn't put it down. I zoomed through it in a week. I loved it. If ya like Grisham, but are sick of the lawyer deal, go with this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2004

    Rain Fall is great!

    Comparitively speaking Rain Fall and it's lead character, John Rain, has some similarities to the Burke series by Andrew Vachss but also stands alone with a hell of a lot more action and great pacing. Eisler is to be commended for his exceptional plotting and awe inspiring set pieces. Easily one of the best books I have read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2003

    One of the best books I have read!

    This is a great book. Full of action and excitement. Once you start reading you will not put this one down! I can't wait to read the seaqual to this book! Barry Eisler has become one of my favorite authors. A must read book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2003

    excellent debut........a fresh new thriller

    Mr. Eisler displays indepth knowledge of the Japanese martial arts and eastern philosophies. He intertwines the west with the east and brings out the differences. The Rain character is excellently portrayed and very believable. Very 'James Bondish' with his classy clothes and tastes of food and drink. Mr. Eisler writes a book that is hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2002

    An awesome first novel

    I was pleasantly surprised by this first novel from new author Barry Eisler. Rain Fall brings alive the streets of Tokyo in a way that no other thriller set in Japan has ever done. We really feel the electricity of the city through Eisler's narration. The characters are well written and engaging and the story itself really keeps pace. Technically, the book is very sound. The author himself is a black belt in Judo (a piece of information gleaned from the book flap) so the fight scenes are very realistic. Also, and a bonus for me, I got to learn quite a bit about Japanese politics. I'd highly recommend this book for someone looking for a good summer read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2002

    A COMPELLING READ

    Few fictional characters burst upon the scene fully realized, more than ready to take their place in the pantheon of unforgettable protagonists. Add one to that meager list with the creation of John Rain in Barry Eisler's dynamite debut 'Rain Fall,' In fact, Rain, an accomplished assassin , doesn't just burst upon the scene - he steamrollers into it. 'I insist on only a few questions,' Rain notes in describing himself and his occupation. 'Is the target a man? I don't work against women or children. Have you retained anyone else to solve this problem? I don't want my operation getting tripped up by someone's idea of a B-team, and if you retain me, it's an exclusive. Is the target a principal? I solve problems directly, like the soldier I once was, not by sending messages through unresolved third parties like a terrorist......I'm not a mercenary, although I was nothing more than that once upon a time. And although I do in a sense live a life of service, I am no longer samurai, either.' The son of an American mother and a Japanese father Rain served with Special Operations in Vietnam. For the past two decades he has led a life of scrupulously guarded anonymity aided by only one other person - Harry, a likeable computer whiz who fears he might be located by his electronic signature so doesn't use any unnecessary electrical appliances. To Harry, a refrigerator and air conditioning are easily expendable. Rain's latest assignment is to dispose of Kawamura, a highly placed government official. A short circuited pacemaker makes quick work of the official; it is a death that appears to be from natural causes. What puzzles Rain is to see a man searching through the dead man's pockets. A petty thief? Or, is there something more to this assignment than Rain realizes? Complications arise when Rain meets Midori, Kawamura's daughter, a beautiful jazz pianist. Romance is never on his agenda but the attraction between the two becomes undeniable. When Midori is endangered by those who believe she has information belonging to her father, Rain finds himself fighting not just for his life but hers as well. His cover has been blown, and he has only hours. The enemies he faces are rabid and relentless: a treacherous old foe from Rain's war years in Vietnam; a no-holds-barred figure from the nether world of Japanese corruption; and a won't-quit detective. Eisler has crafted an intense, can't-put-down read rich with scenes of contemporary Japan and gasp inducing action. Word is that he's already working on a follow-up - this reader can't wait.

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