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Hard Rain by Barry Eisler

Hard Rain (2003)

by Barry Eisler

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
I didn't think it was an amazing read, as far as assassin-as-protagonist stories go, but I liked the main character. What stood out for me was the author's depiction of 2 Japanese cities, the settings of this book. Superb. I've never been to Japan but I got a vivid snapshot of the cultures and places of the 2 cities: the little cafes, bath houses, hotels and back street fighting studios. I would read another book in this series. ( )
  cjazzlee | Nov 13, 2015 |
The book is not well paced. In fact it sort of drags. Eisler enjoys using metaphor for describing the scenes around him. He does have a nice touch for it and you do get a good feeling for Toyko as he describes it to you. And he describes it a lot. I would have preferred less of background description, but that is a matter of taste.

Eisler occasionally writes in excruciating step by step detail the various movements of his character. On the one hand, it is in keeping with the character who is an assassin and the narrator of the story. Assassins are notorious for being detailed to the nth degree. On the other hand, I didn't find it gripping narrative.

An assassin's tale should be gripping. It is, after all, a thriller. Part of the lack of interest, for me anyway, was that I didn't find John Rain all that fascinating. I don't necessarily have to sympathize with him, although I think that is Eisler's intent. But it would be nice to all least feel compelled to know what happens to him next. I didn't.

You never feel like Rain is in any danger of being in over his head. His fights are quick and without much of an underdog feeling, so when he eventually kills his foe, you mostly nod and move on to the next scene, without any cheering. Since Rain is an aging assassin, this could have so easily been turned into his weakness in a fight. The reason why he loses the occasional fight, why he almost dies but in the end turns it around for the win. But no. Rain is just really cold and really good and there never is much question that he is going to win. And do it quickly.

The conspiracy was nicely convoluted. And the man behind the conspiracy is still alive and kicking at the end, so you do feel like you would like to see that next book in hopes of getting his ass "resolved". But Rain isn't particularly invested in resolving or exposing the conspiracy. He isn't motivated by ideals. He acts for the most part on equations of loss and gain. If the gain is greater, he acts. But in this book he is converted to act on emotion by the murder of a friend.

( )
  blatherlikeme | Sep 28, 2014 |
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 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:21 -0400)

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"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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