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A Clean Kill in Tokyo (Previously Published as Rain Fall) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
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Rain Fall Hardcover – July 22, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Set in a memorable noir version of Tokyo (jazz clubs, whiskey bars, "love hotels"), Eisler's rich and atmospheric debut thriller winds its way around the city's extensive rail system and its upscale Western boutiques Mulberry, Paul Stuart, Nicole Farhi London, Le Ciel Bleu, J.M. Weston. The author an American lawyer who has lived and worked in Japan brings to life a complex and most interesting hero: John Rain, a hard and resourceful man in his 40s with an American mother, a Japanese father, a childhood spent in both countries and a stretch with Special Operations in Vietnam that literally made him what he is today a highly paid freelance assassin. The book begins with Rain arranging the death (on the subway) of a prominent government figure by short-circuiting his pacemaker and making it look like the man died of a heart attack. But Rain's relatively simple life suddenly becomes very complicated when he finds himself involved both romantically and professionally with the dead man's lovely daughter, Midori, a talented jazz pianist. Formidable adversaries a nasty CIA agent from John's Vietnam days; a right-wing guru who uses Shinto priests as spies and yakuza gangsters as enforcers; a tireless old cop seem intent on exposing Rain and eliminating Midori. There are several excellent action scenes, an amusing and touching young computer nerd who is Rain's only reliable ally and, most of all, an intriguing and intimate evocation of Japan's intense love-hate relationship with America.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (July 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399149104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399149108
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (600 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've been blessed with a variety of interesting jobs: a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations (now called the National Clandestine Service); attorney in an international law firm; in-house counsel at the Osaka headquarters of Panasonic; executive in a Silicon Valley technology startup.

But the best job by far has been novel writing--political thrillers, as it happens, with a lot of realistic action, exotic locations, and steamy sex. My agency training, my time as a lawyer, my experiences in Japan, and a background in martial arts all inform my writing. I get a lot of my material from actual US government craziness (assassinations, torture, indefinite imprisonment, bulk surveillance...you know, everything needed these days to to Keep Us Safe). As I like to say, what's bad for America is good for thriller writers.

A lot of what I've speculated about turns out to be true: the kill list, or "International Terrorist Threat Matrix," I introduced in 2004 in Winner Take All, for example, came to light in 2012 and 2013 as the "Disposition Matrix," courtesy of the Obama administration. The safety shortcomings of Japanese nuclear reactors I described in 2003 in A Lonely Resurrection were documented following the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe. And the pacemaker hack that kicked off my first book--A Clean Kill in Tokyo, in 2002--turns out to have been a real concern of Dick Cheney's, as revealed in his memoirs (it also turned up in the second season of Homeland).

The books have won a bunch of awards and made various "Best of" lists, which is nice. My first book--A Clean Kill in Tokyo, which introduced "natural causes" assassin John Rain--was made into a Japanese language movie called Rain Fall a few years back. The whole Rain series is now being developed for television by Cinemax, with Keanu Reeves starring. Hope to have some updates on that reasonably soon.

If you want to follow what I'm up to beyond the books, Twitter's a good bet--@barryeisler. And then there's Facebook; the mailing list you can find on my website; and my blog, The Heart of the Matter.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David M. Scott on September 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
RAIN FALL is a terrific debut about a Japanese-American hit man who works his profession under cover of being a "market-entry consultant" in Tokyo.
The atmosphere of modern Tokyo shines in RAIN FALL. I lived in Japan for seven years and read this book on a recent trip back. Barry Eisler, who was based in Japan for many years, worked for the US Government and earned his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center in Tokyo. This is a rare book set in Tokyo that gets the details of setting and mannerisms correct. Too many Japan themed efforts are sloppy and just plain wrong. Your reviewer lived and worked for seven years in and around the exact places described in the novel. The book was read and this review written around the corner from one of the coffee shops described in the book. And another rare feat by Eisler � a Japanese-translated version of RAIN FALL was published in Japan to rave reviews from the local media.
John Rain is an efficient killer who will take on any assignment where the death needs to appear natural. But he�s a killer-for-hire with particular rules of engagement � he only accepts contracts to eliminate principal parties and he will not touch women or children. The plot starts quickly when Rain �s technologically fascinating killing of a Japanese Government official on a subway train goes wrong. There are other people who come from the shadows of the subway car suddenly interested in the contents of the corpse�s suit pockets. As his fee is deposited into a secret account the next day, Rain steps up his caution. But he finds himself hanging out with a jazz pianist who just happens to be the daughter of the government official. And Rain�s old CIA buddies from Viet Nam are mixed up with the dead man somehow and come after him.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By H. S. Wedekind VINE VOICE on March 25, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am happy to say I enjoyed both RAIN FALL and HARD RAIN by Barry Eisler, though I recommend starting with RAIN FALL. Much of what happened in the first book is alluded to in the second, and this could cause some confusion. If there is such a person as a likeable assassin, then John Rain is the man. He is caught between two cultures (John's father was Japanese and his mother American) and not really a part of either. More of his background is given in HARD RAIN, so this man-caught-in-the-middle character makes a lot of sense when you put together the fragments of his life. Still, Rain is definitely a man of action and the action comes fast and furious in both of these page turners. Even when you know there will be the inevitable showdown between Rain and the bad guy (or one of the good guys who may or not really be one of the bad guys), the plotting is so tense you wonder if he'll survive to make it into another novel by Eisler. It's nice of the author to translate the Japanese his characters speak for the reader and to explain all of the deadly Judo moves they make when fighting. I'm anxiously awaiting the third book in the series.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By therosen VINE VOICE on September 24, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Eisler hits the ball out of the park with his debut. It's a spy thriller set in Modern Tokyo, capturing the ambiance of the neo-future Metropolis sprouting above and ancient culture.
There are three main selling points for the book. First is the main character. John Rain is part James Bond, part Trevanian's Nicolai Hel, and part Blade Runner. He's both complex and interesting. His "voice" comes off as an old friend with a shady path.
The second stellar point is the ability of Eisler to capture Tokyo. It's a Tokyo that many expats will recongize. The places, style and feel of the city are brought to life with excellent prose. I truly felt like I was back in Roppongi and Shinjuku. The flashbacks really brought me back to a great place.
Lastly, the book has a gripping "can't put it down" quality. Expect to read the book in one sitting. Don't start it unless you have time to finish it. You'll find yourself looking at the clock at 3am thinking, "Where did the time go?"
Well done on an outstanding novel!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By JC on August 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As good as Rain Fall is, the best part came not during the story itself, but on the About the Author section on the back flap of the dust jacket. It states that Mr. Eisler is at work on the second John Rain novel. That's the type of novel this is - you'll immediately be wishing for more as soon as you're done. Rain Fall is one of those rare novels that beg to be read as quickly as possible but will have you wishing you had savored it while you had the opportunity.
The title character, John Rain, half American, half Japanese, is one of the more interesting leads that readers will find. A former Studies and Observations Group (SOG) operative, Rain is highly skilled in covert movement and close range killing. After leaving the military, he set up shop in Japan as a hit man whose specialty is making his victims look as if they have died from natural causes. He has also mastered Judo, adding to his already impressive arsenal. He is both vicious (he kills without compunction), selective (no women), and caring (the book centers around his attempts to protect the daughter of a man he killed.)
Aside from the fantastic John Rain, the plot of the novel is above average as well, as Eisler takes the reader through the underbelly of Japanese urban life, from whiskey bars to love hotels. Rain is contracted to kill a man, which he does in an extremely cool scene with a PDA with pacemaker control software. His next contract is the daughter of the same man, though he finds himself protecting her against several different enemies.
This book has everything a novel should. The violence is well written and choreographed. The romantic involvement between the two main characters is subtle and adds, rather than detracts as is usually the case, from the story. The humor is timely and effective.
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