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Killing Rain (John Rain Thrillers)

By on February 14, 2017

No one but Japanese-American assassin John Rain can win the game of cross and double cross he encounters in this new novel of sexy international intrigue in the series.

Torn between his past as a soldier and his vocation as a killer, longing for attachment but forced to operate alone, and haunted by the fear that one day there must be a reckoning for the things he has done, John Rain moves like a dark ghost through Tokyo and the other urban landscapes in which his Asian features enable him to operate undetected. His ability to make death appear to have been of “natural causes” keeps his reluctant services in constant demand.

In Killing Rain, Rain has a new employer, the Mossad-which needs an operator who can remove “problems” in Asia-and a new partner: Dox, the ex-marine sniper and party animal first introduced in Rain Storm. He also has a new hope-that by using his fearsome talents in the service of something good, he might atone for all the lives he has already taken. But when Rain’s freshly awakened conscience causes him to botch an assignment, turning what should have been a surgical hit into a massacre, he finds himself running both from the Mossad and from the CIA. Can he trust Delilah, the alluring Israeli agent whom he once fought and then loved, to save him now?

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Hard Rain (John Rain)

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Critics nationwide singled out Barry Eisler’s first novel, Rain Fall, with high praise. Publishers Weekly named Rain Fall one of the Best Novels of 2002.

Hard Rain, Eisler’s second John Rain novel, more than fulfills the promise of the first. Rain-half-Japanese, half-American, raised in both countries but at home in neither-is trying to leave his life as a freelance assassin. After killing a CIA officer who hunted him halfway around the globe, Rain goes underground, hoping to find the peace that has eluded him. But then Tatsu, his old nemesis from the Japanese FBI, comes to him with one last job: to find and eliminate a killer at large, a creature with neither compassion nor compunction, whose activities could tip the balance of power in Japan’s corrupt politics and who seems to have designs on Rain’s few friends. To protect them, Rain will have to pursue his most dangerous quarry yet through the crosshairs of the CIA and the Japanese mafia, where the differences between friend and foe and truth and deceit are as murky as the rain-slicked streets of Tokyo.Barry Eisler’s half-breed freelance assassin John Rain returns to Tokyo for a second outing in Hard Rain, the sequel to Eisler’s stunning 2002 debut, Rain Fall. Once again Rain is working with, or at least parallel to, Tatsu, a wily veteran of Japan’s FBI equivalent, who aims to cleanse the Japanese government of its systemic corruption. To further this goal, he’s persuaded the ever-cautious Rain to take out Murakami, a brutal gangster and hitman who specializes in making his killings look like suicide, a specialty Rain thought was his alone. Liquidating the dangerous and elusive Murakami proves to be a difficult task, however, one that leads to personal loss for Rain, and sets the plot on course for a climax that hits with the power of a well-delivered roundhouse kick.

Eisler builds on Rain’s self-enforced isolation and loneliness as he expertly shows the reader Tokyo as channeled by Chandler, transforming the burgeoning metropolis into a noir catacomb of dimly lit hostess bars, scheming bureaucrats, shadowy intelligence agents, and outlaw martial arts dojos where thugged-up yakuza train for illicit death matches.

While the plot becomes complicated toward the novel’s conclusion, Rain is a refreshing and complex character whom readers will want to see return for another installment. If you’ve a yen for a thriller that mixes suspense, intrigue, and action with a Japanese flavor and a hardboiled American attitude, Eisler’s Hard Rain is an excellent choice. –Benjamin Reese

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To Kill a Mockingbird

By on January 31, 2017

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow…. When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.”

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus–three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout’s first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children’s consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well–in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout’s hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind “when you really see them.” By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often. –Alix Wilber

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