HARD RAIN

Barry Eisler, Author . Putnam $24.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-399-15052-4

Rain Fall (2002), Eisler's first book about Japanese-American Vietnam vet John Rain, a hired assassin for government agencies in Tokyo and Washington, worked so well that the author wisely decided to keep all the elements intact in this captivating follow-up. Once again, the nightscape of Tokyo is painted in beautifully dark tones, scored to the live jazz of the clubs where Rain drinks from a menu of expensive single malt whiskeys. Once again, Rain knows everything about the arts of killing and avoiding surveillance—from the sound a man's ribs make when he's crushed to death trying to lift too much weight to how to use a container of very hot tea to ruin a would-be pursuer's day. Once again Rain has to decide whether any of the people he's working for—the shrewd Tatsu, a veteran agent of Japan's FBI who seems to be dedicated to battling high-level corruption; various shady American CIA agents—are to be trusted. And once again, Rain realizes how alone he really is, despite the promise of love and companionship from a couple of very interesting women. "I had understood even as a child that to be half Japanese is to be half something else, and to be half something else is to be... chigatte. Chigatte, meaning 'different,' but equally meaning 'wrong.' The language, like the culture, makes no distinction." The plot itself is a complicated one about a CIA scheme called Crepuscular, designed to clean up—or possibly further corrupt—Japan's tangled mess of business and politics. Eisler acknowledges the help of experts in many areas, but it's his own impressive literary skills that make his John Rain such a fascinating, touching and wholly believable character. Author tour. (July 14)

Reviewed on: 05/26/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
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