Born of an American mother and a Japanese father, John Rain is a businessman based in Tokyo, living a life of meticulously planned anonymity. Trained by the U.S. Special Forces and a veteran of Vietnam, he is a cool, self-contained loner—and he has built a steady business over the past twenty-five years specializing in death by “natural causes.” He is also a man struggling with his own divided nature: Japanese/American; soldier/assassin; samurai/ronin.
From its richly atmospheric and ominous opening pages—in which we witness the death of a stranger in a crowded subway car—Rain’s carefully ordered world begins to unravel. Unknown agents from within and without the international intelligence communities have been circling him for years and, having connected him to the subway job, now have the scent they have been seeking. At the same time, Rain is drawn outside his private world by an alluring jazz pianist, the dead man’s daughter, who is the key to the very secrets that her father died trying to reveal.
John Rain, a Japanese American konketsu, or half-breed, learned his lethal trade as a member of the U.S. Special Forces. Although tortured by memories of atrocities he committed in Vietnam, he has become a paid assassin, a solitary man who lives in the shadows and trusts no one, even those who pay extraordinary sums for his ability to make murder look like natural death. But the aftermath of an otherwise routine hit on a government bureaucrat brings Rain to the attention of two men he knows from the old days in Vietnam: a friend who's now a Tokyo cop and an enemy who betrayed Rain long ago and is now the CIA's station chief in Japan. Like the gangster who hired Rain to kill Yasuhiro Kawamura, they want something the dead man had--a computer disk containing proof of high-level corruption, information that could destroy Japan's ruling political coalition. The search for the disk leads them to a woman Rain has come to love, a talented young jazz musician who also happens to be Kawamura's daughter. --Jane Adams –Amazon.com review
--Rain Fall by Barry Eisler, Copyright ©2002 by Barry Eisler
John Rain, professional assassin, has only three rules. One, his target must be male. Two, he works exclusively—no competition. Three, the target must be a principle, no killing one person to send a message to another. So when he accepts the assignment to take out Yasuhiro Kawamura, a bureaucrat connected with the Liberal Democratic Party, he confirms these three facts and sets out to learn as much as he could about his target in order to make the man’s death look as natural as possible. That’s his specialty, after all.
When Kawamura collapses on the Tokyo subway, it looks like a heart attack. The autopsy will reveal that the man’s pacemaker must have malfunctioned, eliminating any needs for a homicide investigation. Rain is satisfied that the job is complete, however, he’s mildly bothered by the gaijin, a Westerner who appears to be trying to help Kawamura, but in fact, starts searching the dead man’s pockets. But there’s nothing he can do about that.
Days later, Rain finds out that during Kawamura’s funeral, someone tossed Kawamura’s apartment. He comes to the conclusion that the Westerner was supposed to meet Kawamura and receive something from him, something that would cause a later search of the dead man’s apartment. Not his problem, but he’s intrigued to find out Kawamura had a daughter, Midori, and that she was an up-and-coming jazz musician. Rain enjoys jazz and decided to catch one of her performances at a local club. But he’s not the only aficionado of Midori’s music. The Westerner who searched Kawamura’s pockets shows up. After her performance, Rain follows the Westerner to a nearby Starbucks, where he’s arranged a meeting with Midori. Rain, watching from a diner across the street, sees that the meeting does not go well and can’t help but want to find out what exactly is going on.
His curiosity is aroused even further when he receives another job assignment. The target? Midori Kawamura. Kawamura had something he was supposed to give to the Westerner, but was unable to. Now the people hiring Rain believe Midori is in the possession of the mysterious “something,” so she must be eliminated as well.
This violates one of his rules and he decides to do the exact opposite. Instead of taking out the target, he’s going to protect the target. And in the process, becomes a target himself.
I’d seen Barry Eisler’s Rain series on the shelves of my library but with so many unread books at home, I couldn’t bring myself to insert this book ahead of all those. But two weeks ago, looking for something new, my mind latched on to this book and wouldn’t let go. So I went ahead and checked it out. I’m glad I did because this was a very well written story, although it did delve rather strongly into Rain’s background. All the forays into the past began to bother me after a while, but I knew that they were necessary to explain Rain’s history and how he became the man he is today. I’m hoping that the remaining books in the series, Hard Rain, Rain Storm, Killing Rain, The Last Assassin and Requiem for an Assassin will not go so much into the past (unless truly necessary) and will focus on Rain’s future adventures.
I give it THREE stars.