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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 (596 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,029,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A Note On The New Titles

Why have I changed the titles of the Rain books? Simply because I've never thought the titles were right for the stories. The right title matters--if only because the wrong one has the same effect as an inappropriate frame around an otherwise beautiful painting. Not only does the painting not look good in the wrong frame; it will sell for less, as well. And if you're the artist behind the painting, having to see it in the wrong frame, and having to live with the suboptimal commercial results, is aggravating.

The sad story of the original Rain titles began with the moniker Rain Fall for the first in the series. It was a silly play on the protagonist's name, and led to an unfortunate and unimaginative sequence of similar such meaningless, interchangeable titles: Hard Rain, Rain Storm, Killing Rain (the British titles were better, but still not right: Blood from Blood for #2; Choke Point for #3; One Last Kill for #4). By the fifth book, I was desperate for something different, and persuaded my publisher to go with The Last Assassin, instead. In general, I think The Last Assassin is a good title, but in fairness it really has nothing to do with the story in the fifth book beyond the fact that there's an assassin in it. But it was better than more of Rain This and Rain That. The good news is, the fifth book did very well indeed; the bad news is, the book's success persuaded my publisher that assassin was a magic word and that what we needed now was to use the word assassin in every title. And so my publisher told me that although they didn't care for my proposed title for the sixth book--The Killer Ascendant--they were pleased to have come up with something far better. The sixth book, they told me proudly, would be known as The Quiet Assassin.

I tried to explain that while not quite as redundant as, say, The Deadly Assassin or The Lethal Assassin, a title suggesting an assassin might be notable for his quietness was at best uninteresting (as opposed to, say, Margret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, which immediately engages the mind because of the connection of two seemingly contradictory qualities). The publisher was adamant. I told them that if they really were hell-bent on using assassin in a title that otherwise had nothing to do with the book, couldn't we at least call the book The Da Vinci Assassin, or The Sudoku Assassin? In the end, we compromised on Requiem for an Assassin, a title I think would be good for some other book but is unrelated to the one I wrote--beyond, again, the bare fact of the presence of an assassin in the story.

Now that I have my rights back and no longer have to make ridiculous compromises about these matters, I've given the books the titles I always wanted them to have--titles that actually have something to do with the stories, that capture some essential aspect of the stories, and that act as both vessel and amplifier for what's most meaningful in the stories. For me, it's like seeing these books for the first time in the frames they always deserved. It's exciting, satisfying, and even liberating. Have a look yourself and I hope you'll enjoy them.


Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous "Best Of" lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. To learn more, please visit www.barryeisler.com. Or Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter.

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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45 of 48 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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