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Previously published as Rain Fall
Name: John Rain.
Specialty: Natural Causes.
Base of operations: Tokyo.
Half American, half Japanese, expert in both worlds but at home in neither, John Rain is the best killer money can buy. You tell him who. You tell him where. He doesn't care about why...
Until he gets involved with Midori Kawamura, a beautiful jazz pianist--and the daughter of his latest kill.
"Eisler provides a cracklingly good yarn, well written, deftly plotted, and surprisingly appealing... Thomas Perry and Lawrence Block need not retire their hit men quite yet, but Eisler is clearly a challenger."
Includes a note from the author introducing the new edition. This is book #1 in the John Rain assassin series, though each entry is written as a standalone and you can read them in any order you like.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
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. In this taut, brilliantly paced debut thriller, set in a vividly rendered Tokyo, the author manages an unlikely feat; he earns the reader's sympathy and concern for his protagonist, an amoral assassin who is one of most compelling characters in recent crime fiction. --Jane AdamsFrom the Author:
Introduction to the New Edition
A Clean Kill in Tokyo was my first try at a novel. I started writing it when I was living in Tokyo in 1993, when my protagonist, assassin John Rain, would have been forty-one or so. I didn't know then the book wouldn't be published until 2002, or that it would be the start of a series that includes seven entries (so far). If I had known, I might have given Rain a different backstory and made him younger. But I'm not sorry I didn't. I like the way aging has changed and challenged him. He's not as physically quick as he once was, but he's smarter, and as the saying goes, old age and treachery will beat youth and reflexes every time.
Having reread the book for the new release, I have to say I'm pleased with how well it's held up. I tightened up the language here and there, and there are a few technological anachronisms (who uses pagers anymore?), but other than that, the story still strikes me as solid. The premise of its opening sequence -- that you can remotely short out a pacemaker -- has subsequently been vindicated (see the link below). And its themes -- governmental corruption; the way power accrues to whatever factions hold the most information about others; the tension between the need to make things better and the urge to protect the self -- are as relevant as ever, perhaps more so.
It's interesting for me to look back at the story and consider where it came from. I think it all started with my long-standing interest in what I like to think of as "forbidden knowledge": methods of unarmed killing; surveillance and counter-surveillance; lock picking; breaking and entry; and other arcana the government wants only a few select individuals to know. When I was a kid, I read a biography of Harry Houdini, and in the book a cop was quoted as saying, "It's fortunate Houdini never turned to a life of crime, because, if he had, he would have been difficult to catch and impossible to hold." I remember thinking how cool it was that this man knew things ordinary people weren't supposed to know, things that gave him special power, and I guess that fascination never left me. Over the years, I've amassed an unusual library from Paladin Press and the now tragically defunct Loompanics Unlimited ("The Lunatic Fringe of the Libertarian Left") on some fairly esoteric subjects, with titles such as The Death Investigator's Handbook, 21 Techniques of Silent Killing, How to Escape From Controlled Custody, How to Disappear and Never Be Found, and many others. I also got into a variety of martial arts, and spent three years in the CIA, where I learned some of that forbidden knowledge firsthand, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
And then I moved to Tokyo, and living in that incredible city -- training in judo at the Kodokan; frequenting the jazz clubs and coffee houses and whisky bars; feeling what it's like to be within a culture but still an outsider -- somehow catalyzed and combined with my existing forbidden knowledge proclivities. One morning, while commuting to work, a vivid image came to me of two men following another man down Dogenzaka Street in Shibuya. I still don't know where the image came from, but I started thinking about it. Who are these men? Why are they following that other guy? Then answers started to come: They're assassins. They're going to kill him. But these answers led to more questions: Why are they going to kill him? What did he do? Who do they work for? It felt like a story, somehow, so I started writing, and before long, I was working on a novel about a half-Japanese, half-American hitman whose specialty was making it look like natural causes. I envisioned a judo expert and combat veteran, with a taste for good coffee and rare single malt whisky and a quiet passion for live jazz; a man who resides in Tokyo and is of the city while not belonging to it; a perpetual outsider who secretly wants in; a man who tried and failed to be samurai and is now only ronin.
That man became John Rain, and the book, A Clean Kill in Tokyo. In retrospect, I'm amazed I didn't immediately realize that the book was more than a standalone, that a character as complex and conflicted as Rain would be a great protagonist for a series. But better late than never. I enjoyed reacquainting myself with Rain in connection with this rerelease of the series. I hope you'll enjoy your time with him at least as much.
* * * * *
Remotely hacking a pacemaker:
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publis, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11148273589X