In his critically acclaimed Rain Fall, Barry Eisler introduced half Japanese-half American freelance hit man John Rain, a "dashing and dangerous hero...as likable as he is lethal." Now Eisler's back. So is Rain, the master of death by "natural causes" whose new target threatens the fragile political balance of an entire country.
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