on September 25, 2011
I have read all of Barry's books, starting with Fault Line followed by Inside Out. I then read all of the Rain series. Some of his books I read twice. I recommended Inside Out to students, friends, and have given it as a gift. I am Dox's #1 fan and hope a novel will be written about his back story. I anxiously anticipated the release of The Detachment. I even bought a Kindle due to Barry's recent deal with Amazon and that the ebook would be released before the paper version. (I prefer the feel of a real book but I know I am losing that battle. I read the book twice before writing this review.
So writing how disappointed I am with The Detachment was not an easy choice to make. If you have not read any of Barry's books, you will enjoy the book and the camaraderie between the men. I feel that I know these characters very well and it could be because of that connection, I expected more.
This relationship between the characters felt forced which is one of the reasons I had a hard time believing the story line. Without giving anything away, knowing the characters from other novels and putting them together, in this way, did not work for me.
I also agree with the previous reviewer who mentioned the peachiness of the novel. All writers have their opinions and Inside Out has a definite opinion expressed. Given I had waited so long for this book and had such high expectations; I just wanted escapism and a hot sex scene for Dox. I didn't get either.
I am sure I will read Barry's next novel but my expectations have been tempered so there will not be the anticipation that there was with this one.
on September 15, 2011
The author, Barry Eisler, scores another dramatic hit with this latest, and much anticipated, installment in the John Rain series. An exceptional read and proof once again, as though any more were needed, that Eisler stands firmly atop the genre. The Rain series has been a personal favorite since book one and it just keeps getting better with each new addition to the canon. With his trademark hyper-realism Eisler once again draws the reader into the murky world of globe trotting spies and assassins. The combination of characters from previous works was engaging, entertaining and fantastically well done. The best parts of Eisler's novels has always been the attention to detail he puts into each scene and the humanity he brings to his characters. It is so easy for an author to fall into the trap, in this genre in particular, of making his characters two dimensional cookie cutter action heroes with zero soul. Eisler has been able to avoid this completely with each of his finely wrought characters through an entire excellent series. The reader genuinely cares about what happens to these guys, and girls, as they deal with betrayal, power, corruption, personal loss and all of the other very human failings and pitfalls Eisler sets before them. The methods and means his characters employ to do what they do are always spot on and refreshingly realistic. The settings and situations too are exceptionally well researched and frighteningly plausible. Barry Eisler is beyond a doubt my favorite modern author of espionage fiction. The long awaited return of John Rain and company was well worth the wait. Five stars for this up-all-night page turner!
The Grey Line: Modern Corporate Espionage and Counterintelligence
on September 16, 2011
"Sir, I guess there's just a meanness in this world." - Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
It's rare when I pick up a book and read it cover to cover in one day. But that's what happened when I opened up Barry Eisler's 9th novel. I simply couldn't put it down.
If you've read his other books, then you know that he has written a six book series for John Rain (so far!) and a two book series for Ben Treven. Characters from both series are brought together in The Detachment. So from the perspective of a long time fan, this book was the perfect blending of two story lines.
I don't want to give out spoilers, so allow me to describe my reaction to the book without actually providing plot details. What I especially appreciated in this story is how intricate and layered it is. I'm no writer of novels, but I can guess that having four very different main characters traveling together and practically in every scene together is no easy story to write. Keeping it realistic, suspenseful, and entertaining is something only writers at the top of their craft can do. Eisler succeeds in abundance. The issue with these four main characters is that they are all bad guys. Let's face it...they kill people for a living. Getting inside their head; being an observer to their insecurities, their doubts, their fears, is simply intense. But you end up rooting for them nonetheless.
One thing to note is that Eisler doesn't hold back his opinions about global (especially U.S) politics and policy. Being a former CIA agent, he sheds a scary visibility on things we read about in the news, but from another angle. He's either hyper-cynical or hyper-realistic. I am concerned (for him) about the former a scared (for all of us) by the latter. For he writes fictional novels about things that are real. Does he have access to information that the common citizen doesn't? If so, then damn. I think I need a shot of one of Rain's recommended scotch/whiskeys! What I think Eisler does - and does it so well - is to scour the best news sources (be they "establishment press", blogs, subject matter experts he personally knows, etc) and consolidates it into a plausible story that is current and insightful. What I especially appreciate is that he doesn't take our "protagonists"(??) and make them Jack Bauer superheroes. These are conflicted real characters being exposed to the belly of the beast and acting as brave as they are paranoid.
Lastly, I'll add that a day after finishing The Detachment, I continue to be emotionally satisfied. Yes, this is good fiction. But it's also like watching a good friend. What Eisler has succeeded in beyond everything else, is to take us to the abyss, and bring us back craving more.
on January 26, 2012
The Detachment is surprisingly dull. I depend on Eisler for a rich glimpse of other cultures, for terrific women characters, for well drawn villains like Jim Hilger, and for a lone operative (Rain) and his occasional partner, Dox. The Detachment is set in the US. Settings lack interest, the plot is confusing. The characters do not live. The author seems a bit bored too.
on September 17, 2011
I've been following this novel's publication for months now, particularly Barry Eisler's shocking decision to turn down a huge advance from an established publisher and to do it his way--a decision which allowed him to get the book to readers (in ebook format) a year earlier and for a much lower price, while still (hopefully) making him a bigger profit. As I write this, the Kindle edition is number 6 on the Amazon bestsellers list, and the book came out only three days ago, so it looks like his gamble paid off.
But how about the story? In a word, excellent. Eisler brings together the characters from his two series, the 6-book Rain series and the 2-book Treven series (each series also has an ebook-only short story available for purchase), and they do not fit together well at all. But this conflict provides much of the drama of the story, with the characters learning how to work together.
Eisler's books are always more than just story--Eisler clearly has a desire to teach as well as entertain. He has a very clear-eyed view of the way the world works, and wants his readers to see what he sees: that the world, and America in particular, is increasingly owned and controlled by corporations and the rich, that democracy has been corrupted past the point of no return, that Americans are surrendering their liberties to a security-industrial complex that is doing little to keep us safe but making certain corporations a great deal of money. The book also serves as a warning that it would only take a few more terror attacks to send America into total hysteria, suspending the Constitution (an act from which we would likely never recover) and losing everything that makes America a great country.
Yet Eisler does not at all ignore the personal level. Each of the primary characters is explored in depth: the passions that drive them, their fears and the damage they've suffered. They are not at all the typical action-novel heroes--they have doubts and deep wounds, and the most central character, John Rain, suffers from the realization that the world would have been better off if he'd never been born. The desire to do something to make up for all the misery he has caused is a message to readers.
Finally, in every Eisler novel readers will encounter a great deal of tradecraft: how people who deal in professional violence stay alive and get their jobs done. Not only is this fascinating in itself, some of it has practical application to readers' lives, encouraging them to wake up, be aware of their surroundings, learn how to defend themselves, learn how not to be easy victims.
I gave the first John Rain novel a try because I live in Japan and I rarely encounter good novels written by American authors that are set in Japan. Very few non-Japanese writers do a good job of capturing Japan at all. Eisler impressed me with his ability to portray the Japan that I was living in, with insight into the culture and even into the (opaque to outsiders) politics. Since then, I've been an avid reader of the man, and he continues to impress with this, his 9th novel.
on September 27, 2011
John Rain is back as the lethal Japanese-American assassin in Barry Eisler's latest espionage epic. Motivated by personal losses (and the huge amounts of cash on offer) Rain returns to what he does best and accepts a lucrative contract to kill three targets. Unable to carry out the job single-handedly he puts together THE DETACHMENT. His ex-marine buddy and sniper Dox is the only one he can really trust in the group as the other two seem slightly suspect to say the least. The suspense is as good as the action as they battle seemingly insurmountable government forces to terminate their objectives. Uncovering inner turmoil and a political conspiracy on the way the plot thickens and the suspense and pace mount to a gripping conclusion.
The locations and characters are brilliantly described as the team moves from one exotic location to another. The writing is great with a perfect blend of story, action and character development. Rain reminds me of one of Eric Van Lustbader's main characters in that they were both of mixed heritage and were unstoppable assassins, unfortunately I can't remember the name (In my defence I did read the Lustbader book about 25 years ago).
One I honestly couldn't put down, long live the Rain, man!
on October 30, 2011
I have read all of Eisler's books and enjoyed the Rain series as a taut, original twist on the hitman genre. Since I like to collect hardback books (old school), I was surprised to find this only available in ebook or paperbook. The plot is typical for Eisler and enjoyable in its execution until the blatant and consistent propaganda about the loss of American liberties. John Rain is most believable as a hitman with few moral hangups (no women or children) - now he is a left-wing cynic? I can't help but believe that a publishing house with a good editor would help Eisler avoid most of the rhetoric since it diminishes his characters and insults his audience. If we want lectures we can tune into talk radio or cable news.
on October 31, 2011
OK, it's my fault, I bought two of the Rain series without first reading one. I bought into the hype that the author is a former operative and this is the new James Bond (at least that's what I recall of the reviews). I waded through 100 pages of contrived stuff that sounded more like a blood-thirsty teenager with an overactive imagination. The plot, the character, the style all left me flat. I realize that others might love it (I never understood the fascination for Chainsaw Massacre, either). But after 100 pages this one got tossed into the give-away stack. No more money will be spent by this consumer on an Eisler novel.
on July 4, 2012
Love the John Rain character and the setting and the sense of originality that the first several books in the series offered. This one does not live up to the rest. Please, if haven't read Barry Eisler, read the earlier works and stop before you get to this one.
Added July 15 - After quitting at 34%, I finished "The Detachment" this weekend. The action does pick up. John Rain and his gang combine their talents to form a team the likes of which have not been seen since "The Gang" from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" kidnapped the restaurant review writer in "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia". Instead of the internally conflicted John Rain consoling himself with jazz and single-malt whiskeys in exotic locations of the early Eisler novels, we have Mr. "I care about your feelings" leading a cast of self-absorbed sociopaths on an adventure that is more creatively presented by a cable sitcom based in a run down pub in South Philadelphia.
The first three John Rain novels were gems. There are some glimpses of the better novels in this work, especially an intriguing scene with friend Tomo Kanezaki. Hopefully scenes and characters like this will get more time in future novels, and John Rain will return to solitary form - while the rest of "The Gang/The Detachment" make Part 3 of "The Gang Gets Whacked".
on September 19, 2011
"The Detachment" by Barry Eisler is the first John Rain book since 2007 and seventh book in the series.
Eisler brings together the Ben Treven series ("Fault Line" and " Inside Out") with John Rain in this masterpiece of political maneuvering and manipulation. Treven and Larison are asked by Colonel Scott Horton (of the Treven series) to track Rain and Dox down so that the two pairs can team up to make some necessary "adjustments" to the current administration who are out to terrorize the American people to their own end. As with all of Eisler's expertly written novels, all is not what it appears. In a storyline fraught with tension and question of not if but when the foursome will implode, Rain sets out to do what he thinks is right accompanied by the ever awesome, Dox (sort for Unorthodox).
Dox fans, you're going to love his character in this book. This is truly the best of Dox. As much as my heart bled for Dox in "Requiem for an Assassin," I fell for the character all over again in this novel.
Treven is still a bit of a tool but he's a tool in a way that makes sense and adds to the story. If you've only read Eisler's Treven books and declared them not for you, try Rain, he really is a completely different animal.
Eisler also brings back Kanesaki which, as the book takes place mostly in the US, would have been easy not to do but I love that he did it. I've always personally wondered if this isn't the character that Eisler based on himself. He's well realized though a bit out of his depth but certainly willing to help Rain in any way he can.
This was a happy read with a good friend after a long absence....which may seem odd to say of a book with so much violence but read it, I dare you to walk away without a smile on your face. The next book cannot be released quick enough. I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes mystery/thriller.