Barry Eisler Hard Rain (A John Rain Novel)

ISBN 13: 9780718145583

Hard Rain (A John Rain Novel)

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9780718145583: Hard Rain (A John Rain Novel)
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Previously published as Hard Rain and Blood from Blood

All John Rain wants is to get out of the killing business. But with his discretion, his reliability, and his unique talent for death by "natural causes," no one is willing to let him just retire. So when an old nemesis from the Japanese national police force comes to him with a new job—eliminate Murakami, a killer even more fearsome than Rain himself—Rain knows he can't refuse.

Aided by an achingly desirable half Brazilian, half Japanese exotic dancer he knows he shouldn't trust, Rain pursues his quarry through underground no-holds-barred fight clubs, mobbed-up hostess bars, and finally into the heart of a shadow war between the CIA and the yakuza. It's a war Rain can't win, but also one he can't afford to lose—a war where the distinctions between friend and foe and truth and deceit are as murky as the rain-slicked streets of Tokyo.

"...a superlative job...entertaining and suspenseful enough to keep you turning the pages as fast as your eyes can follow." —Chicago Sun Times

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Review:

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

From the Author:

Introduction to the New Edition

Having just finished rereading and slightly revising A Lonely Resurrection exactly ten years after first writing it, I'm struck by two things. First, how well the book has held up. Part of the credit for this goes to Tokyo, where the story is largely set -- a city whose face is constantly changing but whose essence never does. I lived there again in 2008 and 2009, fifteen years after my first sojourn in Rain's city, and I loved that despite the new surface contours, despite the loss of a few A Lonely Resurrection locales and changes to some others, the feeling of the place was exactly as I remembered. I expect it always will be.

The second thing that struck me was the prescience of the plot in light of the nuclear catastrophe that followed the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. I tend to get my plot ideas from real-world occurrences, and here are a few that appear in the book:

Universal Studios Japan, it turned out, had been serving food that was nine months past its due date and falsifying labels to hide it, while operating a drinking fountain pumping out untreated industrial water. Mister Donut was in the habit of fortifying its wares with meat dumplings containing banned additives. Snow Brand Food liked to save a few yen by recycling old milk and failing to clean factory pipes. Couldn't cover that one up -- fifteen-thousand people were poisoned. Mitsubishi Motors and Bridgestone got nailed hard, concealing defects in cars and tires to avoid safety recalls. The worst, shocking even by Japanese standards, was the news that TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power, had been caught submitting falsified nuclear safety reports going back twenty years. The reports failed to list serious problems at eight different reactors, including cracks in concrete containment shrouds...

I wrote that in 2002. I had access only to open-source materials. The potential for calamity was visible to anyone who wanted to see it. As, indeed, my character Tatsu did:

He pulled himself up and sat on the edge of the tub to take a break from the heat. "You know, Rain-san," he said, "societies are like organisms, and no organism is invulnerable to disease. What matters is whether an organism can mount an effective defense when it finds itself under attack. In Japan, the virus of corruption has attacked the immune system itself, like a societal form of AIDS. Consequently, the body has lost its ability to defend itself. This is what I mean when I say that all countries have problems, but only Japan has problems it has lost the ability to solve. The TEPCO managers resign, but the men charged with regulating their activities for all those years remain? Only in Japan..."

He wiped his brow. "So. Consider this state of affairs from Yamaoto's perspective. He understands that, with the immune system suppressed, there must eventually be a catastrophic failure of the host. There have been so many near misses -- financial, ecological, nuclear -- it is only a matter of time before a true cataclysm occurs. Perhaps a nuclear accident that irradiates an entire city. Or a countrywide run on banks and loss of deposits. Whatever it is, it will finally be of sufficient magnitude to shake Japan's voters from their apathy..."

It remains to be seen whether the corruption and collusion that led to Japan's nuclear nightmare will be enough to shake voters from their apathy. I might have been mistaken about that. And I obviously was mistaken in suggesting that Japanese apathy in the face of extraordinary corruption is somehow unique. The last decade in America has seen a war sold to the public on false pretenses, high officials confessing to ordering torture in violation of treaty and domestic law, and an economic meltdown even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan acknowledges involved massive fraud -- and no one has been prosecuted, no one has gone to prison, and Americans continue to dutifully cast their votes for the Democratic/Republican duopoly responsible for these disasters.

A last thought: it's not just the politics in these books that subsequent events keep validating; it's also the technology. In A Lonely Resurrection, Tatsu tracks Rain to Osaka using a nationwide system of video cameras tied to advanced facial recognition software. Here's what's going on in Japan today, ten years later:

yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T121128004400.htm

So despite the presence of the odd anachronistic pager or two, I think on balance A Lonely Resurrection has proven itself not only stalwart, but indeed not-so-surprisingly ahead of its time. See for yourself -- and I hope you'll enjoy it.

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