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What makes a legendary assassin? For John Rain, it was the lessons of love, war, and betrayal he learned in Tokyo in 1972.
Fresh from the killing fields of Southeast Asia, Rain works as a bagman under the watchful eye of his CIA handler, delivering cash to corrupt elements of the Japanese government. But when a delivery goes violently wrong, Rain finds himself in the crosshairs of Japan’s most powerful yakuza clan. To survive, Rain strikes a desperate deal with his handler: take out a high-profile target in the Japanese government in exchange for the intel he needs to eliminate his would-be executioners.
As Rain plays cat and mouse with the yakuza and struggles to learn his new role as contract killer, he also becomes entangled with Sayaka, a tough, beautiful ethnic Korean woman confined to a wheelchair. But the demands of his dark work are at odds with the longings of his heart—and with Sayaka’s life in the balance, Rain will have to make a terrible choice.
About the Author
Bestselling and award-winning author Barry Eisler writes black ops thrillers with the assurance of one who knows: for three years he held a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. Afterward, he became 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 thrillers have earned numerous distinctions, including the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year. He’s been on numerous “Best Of” lists, and his work—including the #1 bestseller The Detachment—has been translated into nearly twenty languages. When not writing novels, he blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A prequel to the thriller series whose protagonist is John Rain, assassin for hire, this new novel takes place in Tokyo in 1972. Rain, recently returned from combat duty in Vietnam and Cambodia and having left the military under a cloud, barely 20 years old, he finds a job of sorts as a CIA bagman. Rain is half American and half Japanese; after his father was killed in street riots in Tokyo in 1960, when Rain was eight years old, his mother brought him to the US, where he stayed until her death, at which time he joined the military. His beloved Suzuki motorcycle has been dubbed “Thanatos,” which he felt was “appropriate after what I’d done in the war.” After a series of incidents which trigger “combat reflexes shaped in the jungle,” and initially at least through no fault on his part, Rain finds that “something about my demeanor . . . was suddenly making everyone swoon for my apparent potential as a contract killer,” and so the Rain we have come to know and love is born. Rain also displays a sentimental side: “My past and everyone part of it sundered, irretrievable, accessible to me now only as painful and haunted memories, some still sharp, some increasingly indistinct . . . But with sufficient exposure, you get acclimated to anything, killing included.” And ultimately there is “the smooth,ineluctable symmetry of fate.” The author manages to inject humor into a tale that is, unexpectedly, almost dispassionate, not as dark or graphic as might have been the case in lesser hands, despite the high body count. And the mantra throughout: “Sometimes there’s just what you can do, and what you can’t.” By book’s end, Rain is forced to enter a self-imposed exile and starts a decade of life as a fugitive. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: Reader received book as part of a giveaway. I can’t remember when I first read one of the books in the John Rain series. My fascination with Japan (an often used location in the series) and the concept of sympathetic assassin led me to give one of the books a try. The author’s fast-paced writing and adeptness at bringing readers to other countries led me to read other novels in the series. Still, the character of John Rain is so layered that a reader realizes there’s a lot about him we don’t know, even after reading many books in the series. This book introduces us to that history. How did Rain get his start as an assassin? What early mistakes did he make, giving him the lessons that remain with him? How did Rain develop his penchant for overanalyzing situations? How did Rain become a jazz fan? As a reader, we learn much and still we’re left hoping for more of Rain's "early years." I’ve read all the books in the John Rain series. It’s hard to say which book is my favorite one. However, I would definitely put this one in the top three and highly recommend it.