Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Signet (July 1, 2003)
Publisher: Signet (July 1, 2003)
John Rain kills people. For a living. His specialty: making it seem like death by natural causes. But he won't take out just anyone. The job must be an exclusive. The target must be a principal player. And he'll never murder a woman. Half American, half Japanese, but one of place in both worlds, Rain bases his operation in Tokyo, where even a crowded subway car is filled with opportunities -- like slipping a pacemaker-jamming device onto a victim. John Rain may not be a good man, but he's good at what he does. Reliably discreet, coldly efficient, Rain is the best hitman money can buy...
Until he falls for the beautiful daughter of his last kill.
Knowing I needed something different to read, I picked up this book to read on the plane for my trip this past weekend. See, I tend not to read romance in public, partly because I'm easily distracted and like to people-watch, but mostly because I really would rather not read the naughty bits while sitting so close to complete strangers. None of them are ever cute anyway, so what's the point, really.
So I chose this book, having been "friended" by the author some time ago at myspace, but never having read his books. I scanned the back cover and was intrigued by the premise, though not quite 100% sure it would be my thing. Still, I thought it was worth trying. Well, let's just say I needed have worred.
When we first meet John Rain, he is working with a partner on a kill, only Harry has no idea what John's actual intentions are, and thinks they are only following the man in question, not chasing him to his death. Just like in the past, through a discreet channel John has been offered this job, and having gone over the details, accepts the assignment. John excels at creating a death that looks natural, and this time is no exception. Having managed to successfully "kill" his target by making it look like a heart attack, he quickly leaves the scene, vanishing like the mist. Though something happens to make him pause. Still, it's not smart to hang around, so he ponders the situation far from the scene.
Later, John visits an old friend at a favorite jazz club called Alfie's, and is persuaded to meet the beautiful jazz pianist playing that night. Rain is immediately drawn to her, but tries to resist it. A man like him is only ever to experience temporary passion, and he senses Midori is so much more than a one-night stand. To complicate matters, he learns that she is the daughter of the man he recently killed, which makes him even more determined to keep his distance.
Then he gets a phone call asking him if he'd like to take another assignment. This time he's asked to do something he's always refused to do: kill a woman. The target: Midori. He's given 48 hours to make a decision, otherwise someone else will be given the job.
Knowing that he should stay away from her and not get involved, he cannot let anything happen to her, and sets out to protect her as best he can without her knowing. But soon that becomes impossible when she is discovered in her apartment by some men who think she has something they want. He has to tell her what's going on. This time he also involves Harry.
Since he's known him, John has tried to protect Harry as much as possible, preferring to utilize him more for his computer skills than anything else. He's your typical computer geek, a bit in awe of John, somewhat naive, but not as much as John thinks he is. Now John has to come somewhat clean with Harry, and learns that this young man trusts him, so he decides to trust him back. His life may depend on it,.
Men from John's past and present are involved in trying to get to Midori, and it leaves a bitter taste in his mouth, knowing he's been a pawn for quite some time. Well, John's not going to take it anymore...
I enjoyed this book very, very much. I felt like I got a good taste of Tokyo, from the harried businessmen to the tired shopkeepers, to the jazz clubs and the trendy bars. To me it was a fascinating look into a different country, and I loved it. I believe Barry Eisler has been to Japan many times, and uses his travel experiences to create a believable setting.
I also liked John Rain, despite the fact he's a paid killer. There's something sad about him, maybe his awareness that there's no place in the world for people like him, after all he's seen and done. Maybe it's his heritage, being half Japanese, half American, not fitting into either too comfortably. Or it could be a multitude of things combined that make him easy to empathize with. His tentative friendship with Harry, possibly. Maybe it's the romantic in me that bleeds for him, thinking he cannot have a relationship with a woman. He really doesn't come across as a horrible person, though he's done really horrific things in his life.
I was impressed that Midori was not the stereotypical heroine you might sometimes find in a book written by a man. Yes she was beautiful, but she was also intelligent and talented and not just a token piece of fluff here. She was not a crazed sex bunny or an airhead, which was a huge relief. I could feel her passion for jazz and for playing the piano. The writing of the scenes where she was playing were so amazing I felt that I was there in the club listening to her play.
There were also very interesting details about Japanese government that when I googled them were actually true, which I found fascinating. I loved the combination of actual events with this fictional character. It truly added flavor to the story.
This is book #1 in the Rain series, and so far I think there have been 7 books released in all. So far, I plan on reading each and every one of them.
Rating: **** out of *****
Labels: Barry Eisler