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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