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Hard Rain by Barry Eisler
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Hard Rain (2003)

by Barry Eisler

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Listened to this audiobook, read by Dick Hill who does a terrific job with pronouncing Japanese. At least it sounds authentic. Not having any clue, I wouldn’t know, but the perception of authenticity is as good as reality. And, of course, I’ll misspell all the names.

Eisler recreates an authentic Japanese world and culture, at least the seamier side -- apparently, as again, I have no experience with reality. But then, the book is a chimera, and creates a duality from contrast of Japanese culture with the protagonist, a paranoid (can you really be paranoid if everyone is really after you?) assassin, hired by a government spook, Tatsu, his former nemesis to undertake some selective murder, but it’s all in a good cause.

Rain spends most of his time and effort in avoiding detection and circumventing security devices and people, a life which seems devoid of entertainment -- and here Rain is different from Parker and Quarry and Thomas Perry’s nameless assassin, -- except for his love of piano jazz. That struck me as a substantial chink in his armor as his predilection for a particular artist. Midori, daughter of one of Rain’s previous hits, would imply easy entry into his world. Nevertheless, Eisler’s description of Rain’s world is rich and revealing of Japanese cultural differences.

Rain has his own code (no children or women and the targets must be principals, not just “to send a message”) and few friends whom he trusts, one being Harry, the electronics genius, who figures prominently in this story. He also specializes in killing people so the result appears to be of natural or accidental provenance. (One always wonders whether the intricate detail in books like this become prescriptions for some people.)

Eisler muses on Japanese political culture and the relationship between the United States and Japan. Here one of Japan’s top policemen is embarked on a personal crusade to eliminate corruption, yet, as Rain points out Japan’s true power lies in the bureaucracy, and politicians are merely paid lip service. The CIA is also involved, running its own Iran Contra type of operation even setting up one of its own to take an Oliver North kind of fall. The plot is complicated with numerous subplots all nicely tied together by Tokyo’s ambiance.

As I read a particularly affecting scene as Rain recounts his first kill while a sniper in Vietnam, I realized that many of the aforementioned hitmen protagonists learned their trade in Vietnam and realized once out they had no marketable skills except killing, and that they had developed a particularly emotion-less view of life and death.

My sole complaint would be the the writing/reading descriptions of hand-to-hand combat and extreme violence are hardly credible as they often border on caricature. While one could read this as a standalone, I would recommend reading the first in the series, [b:Rain Fall|925|Rain Fall (John Rain, #1)|Barry Eisler|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255640270s/925.jpg|1333462], for a better grounding in the back story of some of the characters. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
This is the second novel in the series about Japanese-American Vietnam vet John Rain, a hired assassin for government agencies in Tokyo and Washington. I found it to be well written and was fascinated by the many details about Tokyo that it contained.
I haven’t read any of the other titles in the series and probably won’t because it is darker and more violent than I like Rain knows entirely too much about the arts of killing and avoiding surveillance. There are many violent scenes in which a variety of weapons are used. Rain works with Tatsu, a veteran agent of Japan's FBI dedicated to battling high-level corruption and various shady American CIA agents, any of whom may or may not be trusted. Because he can’t trust anyone, Rain realizes how alone he really is, despite the interest of two very interesting (and of course, beautiful) women. The plot isn't quite as complicated as Rain is himself, but the author kept me guessing. ( )
  terran | Jun 15, 2013 |
Meticulous John Rain leaves nothing to chance. ( )
  magentaflake | Jan 7, 2013 |
It would appear Eisler writes classy but brutal spy novels. The assassin John Rain has moved from Tokyo for business reasons: to make it harder for his enemies to get to him.

Therefore, they get to his hacker friend the old fashioned way. With a prostitute paid to turn his head.

As well as Japanese politicians that don't like him, the CIA still doesn't either. A supposed operation to help reformer politicians deal with Japan's endemic corruption is anything but. Gangsters and spooks and political leaders would rather the graft gravy train continue and a massive collapse happen hopefully after they are out of it than pain now that gets in the way of their profiteering.

Another woman in the picture, too, along with the old flame, plus a lot more expensive aged single malts along with branching out into less sexist killing as he and his fed cop friend look to gain revenge for deaths of colleagues.

http://freesf.strandedinoz.com/wordpress/2012/01/hard-rain-barry-eisler/ ( )
  BlueTysonSS | Jan 21, 2012 |
Stylish sequel to Rain Fall. Eisler's prose is, if anything, even more poetic in Hard Rain. We begin to care even more about John Rain and we feel some of his pain. The situations he finds himself in are handled skillfully by both Rain and Eisler.

The political aspects of this thriller take some slick twists as part of the plot though they are probably handled the worst by Eisler. I got too much sense of "infodump" about Japanese politics at times rather than narrative discovery. Maybe Eisler has the same low opinion of most politicians that I do, lol. I would have liked to read more detail of the difference between bureaucrats as the evolution of samurai versus the politicians.

Rain's love life is going to kill him some day but until then it helps make a thrilling read and continues to show a side of Rain beyond the thinking man's assassin. Some other habits are exposed as unhealthy for him as well.

You start to wonder about the plans of his 'Japanese-FBI' friend Tatsu. Not just if he is Rain's friend but also if his approach to reforming Japanese politics has any thrust to it. And you also ask, does Rain need a master, as a modern samurai, or is he the masterless ronin he fancies himself to be?

Yep, time to start reading book 3, Rainstorm. If you got this far so will you! ( )
  Penforhire | Nov 6, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451212460, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In Hard Rain, Eisler's second novel, the lethal assassin John Rain is back. Half Japanese, half American, raised in both countries but at home in neither, Rain is trying to leave his life as a freelance assassin, but no one will just let him retire. With his military discipline and martial arts skills, and his talent for making death appear to have been of "natural causes, " he is a potential asset - and a threat - to everyone." "After killing a CIA officer who had hunted him halfway around the globe, Rain plans his own disappearance, hoping to find the peace that has eluded him. But then his old nemesis from the Japanese FBI comes to him asking for one last 'favor': find and eliminate a killer at large, a creature without compassion or conscience." "It's soon clear that it is not just Japan's fragile balance of political power that's threatened, but also the lives of Rain's few friends, including a love from his past. To protect them, Rain must pursue his quarry into the heart of a war between the CIA and the Japanese mafia, where the distinctions between friend and foe, truth and deceit, are as murky as the rain-slicked streets of Tokyo."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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